Vivere Christus est = “To live is Christ” …

… et mori lucrum = “and to die is gain”

Otherwise translated: “Life is Christ, and death is gain.”

This is an extremely hope-filled statement – indeed a liberating one.

“Life is Christ.” The first clause means that Jesus Christ is life itself – not only “being alive,” but having “life in abundance” – what every person longs for above all else. Jesus Christ is the one Savior, the bringer of true life. In him our lives find meaning. In him our souls and bodies find healing. We have only to love him and follow him.

“Death is gain.” The first clause is easy enough to grasp. But the second clause modifies the first; it adds to and clarifies its meaning. We are given the simple statement “Life is Christ,” but then we given a paradox, an enigma, about that life, namely: death is a gain of life.

How can this be? How can death, which by definition is a loss of life, be a gain of life? Isn’t this a contradiction?

What we have here is not a contradiction. What we have here is the mystery of how God saves us from death. Rather than simply reversing death, he made death the Way to life by sending his Son (who could not die) to submit to death. He made death and suffering means of lovingly submitting to God, and of giving life to others; he revealed the Resurrection as the reward for this dying according to the pattern of Christ.

Christ delivered the “death blow” to death by enduring it himself. And now, no one with living faith in Christ will ever really die, because death has no ultimate power over them. They have no reason to fear anything; the abundant life they live is Jesus Christ their God; and suffering, death – it leads to life in even greater measure.

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