Two thousand years ago, Jews dispersed to regions around the Mediterranean with religions that honored deities other than “the Lord” of Hebrew literature. These pagan communities prayed to gods or goddesses who conquered life in the world and achieved immortality. Their liturgies solemnly commemorated and ritually enacted a deity’s life, death, and resurrection, which, of course, is what we do in the Mass. The rites put participants in close relation with the divinity and allowed them a share in the divine powers. Like the Mass, sacred pageants of pagans produced a constant renewal, a participation in the deity’s dying and rising.
Through baptism into his death we were buried with him, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead . . . we too might live a new life. (Romans 6:1-14).
You have been raised up in company with Christ ... you have died! Your life is hidden now with Christ in God. When Christ our life appears, then you shall appear with him in glory.... What you have done is put aside your old self ... and put on a new man (sic) ... formed anew in the image of his Creator.