'That's where the dead people live," exclaimed my nephew as he was being driven past a cemetery.
One grave digger remarked about his job: "As a family man, I think of it like this: I go to work, not to dig a grave, but to dig a hole. At the end of the day I look at my job as though I'm planting a tree. I don't know the deceased . . . A tree is wood and that is all I am getting handed."
Rockwood Necropolis in Sydney covers 314 hectares and claims it is the biggest civilian cemetery in the southern hemisphere. With over 900,000 graves it is a veritable city of the dead. The first internment was John Whalan, an Irish pauper. He died aged 18 years. Two unemployed men were hired to dig his shallow grave. There was no service, no record about the exact location. No one knows where his body lies today, but its there somewhere.
"Australian Story" featured the exhuming of a body from a grave in Colac as part of the Police enquiry into a thirty year old "Cold Case." The deceased was possibly murdered. He was buried as a pauper. Now his relatives want to give this former World War II soldier a proper burial after his body is released by the coroner.
Late one Friday afternoon about two thousand years ago there was a panic to get a body off a Roman cross on a hill outside Jerusalem. The Roman Governor gave permission and at least two men, Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea, quickly retrieved the body from the cross. Hastily they dressed the body with spices, wrapped the corpse in strips of linen and carried it to a brand new tomb hewn into the side of the hill. They placed it there and covered the entrance with a large heavy round stone. Some women noted where Jesus had been buried.
Just as dawn was breaking a lone woman came to the tomb. Seeing the stone had been rolled back, Mary Magdalene assumed the worst and fled back to the disciples exclaiming that someone had stolen the body.
Meantime, another group of women who were followers of Jesus came with spices and perfumes to give Jesus a proper burial. To their amazement the tomb was open and vacant. Puzzled, they were suddenly confronted by two angels who asked, "Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here he is risen. . . "
Reporting what the angels had declared to the eleven disciples and the others their "words sounded like nonsense."
Two men, Peter and John run off to the tomb. Arriving first, Peter goes in, sees the strips of linen lying by themselves. He leaves wondering just what has happened. In contrast, John enters, sees the linen lying there and the head cloth folded up by itself away from the linen and believes.
At Easter Christians celebrate the eternal victory by Jesus over death through his bodily resurrection. He is the Living One and He is alive for evermore.
Dr Keith Graham