Something Missing


Let me wish all our readers a Happy and Blessed Easter season.  Moving right along, I have heard several sermons and talks on the meaning of the Resurrection of the Lord, but something has been missing.  I believe that I may have figured out what has been missing for me.  One of the several gospels read on Easter Sunday includes the meeting of Mary Magdalen and Jesus in the garden and the race to see the tomb with their own eyes by Peter and John.  But there are some key details in John’s gospel that cannot be ignored, especially these days when people often believe that the Resurrection was a spiritual event rather than a truly physical rising from the dead.

Let us examine facts handed down to us by those who saw.  It’s interesting, if someone delivers a lecture on the structure of the atom or the source of human chromosomes, we accept as fact, what someone closer to the subject says even when their statements are theories that have yet to be Image result for empty tombobserved through human experience.  This is not the case of John’s resurrection narrative.  Every statement was made by an eye witness, followed by many other witnesses.

When Mary Magdalen peers into the tomb, there is no corpse.  In the garden, she encountered a man whom she believed to be the caretaker and asked him where they had taken Jesus’ body.  But when the man responds, Mary’s eyes are opened, and she recognizes Jesus Christ.  She runs to the apostles and delivers the Good News, “I have seen . . .”   She does not describe Christ to be any different from before he was crucified, except for his wounds.

John tells us that Peter and the Beloved Disciple ran to the tomb, with the beloved disciple arriving first, because he was younger and faster. He does not enter the tomb until Peter arrives.  In this simple act of respect, John points to the Image result for empty tombprimacy of Peter, an honor never applied to any other apostle.  Peter is always first.

Both men probably went to the tomb with mixed feelings.  The body could have been stolen or Jesus was truly alive.

Here we run into small but crucial details. Peter enters the tomb.  Apparently, John stood closer to the exit.  It is he who reports that the shroud laid neatly on the slab where Jesus’ body rested.  But there was another important detail.  The veil used to cover the face of the deceased was not with the shroud.

As John looks around, he sees the veil on another shelf, neatly folded.  This begs the question, since when do grave robbers tidy up after they snatch a corpse?  Robbers would have probably wrapped the body in the shroud to hide the identity of deceased, if they ran into anyone; but this is not what happened.  The tomb was left in perfect order.Image result for empty tomb

The evangelists testify that Jesus appeared before them in the upper room, but came through the wall, not an open door.  If this point stood alone, one could consider the Resurrection a spiritual event or even a symbolic story to drive home the point that Jesus is alive.  But what happens after these sudden appearances of Jesus among the disciples and the travelers to Emmaus leave no doubt that they saw a physical Jesus, with a body scarred by the wounds of the cross.

In one narrative Jesus invites Thomas to place his hands inside the wounds.  On another occasion, Jesus asks the apostles for something to eat.  Spirits don’t eat.  They have to nutritional requirements.

The two travelers on their way to Emmaus reported that they had met a MAN.  He walked with them and spoke to them.  But they did not recognize him until be breaking of the bread.  It is at this point in the meal when the words of consecration are spoken.  “This is my body . . . This is the cup of my blood.”

First, those words had been spoken only by Jesus.  The Apostles were present at the Last Supper, but we are not told that there were strangers in the room with them.  Only the apostles and Jesus knew those words.  But here was a man who appeared to be a stranger repeating those words at the precise moment during the meal where Jesus first said these words, at the breaking of the bread.

The travelers then realized that this was truly Jesus who walked and talked to them as he explained the scriptures and then disappear.  This was not a spirit, but a real man of flesh and blood.  Yet, he could disappear in an instant.  Somehow, some way, this body had been stripped of human limitations.  He no longer needed to walk long distances, knock on the door or eat.  These narratives were handed down to the first-generation Christians by people who had seen Jesus alive, Matthew, John, Peter and by people who trusted the credibility of the eye witnesses.

There are too many details to include in one sermon, but some of the more salient ones could have helped those who still have doubts about the historical reality that was the Resurrection.  Unfortunately, too many preachers have failed to mention the greatest truth of all.  Jesus rose from the dead, was seen by others to whom he chose to reveal himself and there are details in the Gospels and other first century writings that are very important, such as the orderly tomb, and the invitation to Thomas to put his finger into the pierced hand of Jesus.

We must always remember that Christ died and rose for our benefit, to remove the shackles of Adam’s sin and open the gates of heaven for the just. This time of year, catechists, preachers and leaders must always remember to emphatically place the risen Christ in human history.  This single fact changed the course of world history.  People forget these things.   If they are not spelled out during Easter.  There will be something missing in the message.

 

Published in: on April 7, 2018 at 1:34 PM  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Thanks Br. Jay. I always treasure your insights and inspiration. May God bless you and all the Brothers there.

  2. Dear Bro. JR, It’s so very good to hear from you. Thank you for your beautiful post. Blessed & Happy Easter to you, your family & Community. Thank you for all your spiritual wisdom. May God bless you always. Continued prayers for your health & recovery as well as your family & Community. Pax et Bonum. Love & prayers, Arlene F. Rhenos, OFS

    Sent from my iPad

    >


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