Thursday, April 5, 2018

The Case of the Missing Body

APRIL 1, 2018

Jesus, I trust in you!

When the Magdalene told them about the missing body of Jesus, Peter and John ran to the tomb. They both saw nothing but the burial cloths and the cloth that had covered the head of the corpse rolled up in a separate place. The burial garments were neatly folded but the body was not there.
The grave clothes of Jesus were neatly folded. This tells us that the missing body of Jesus could not have been the work of grave robbers. Remember that robbers of tombs have been known to take away the clothes and leave the body. None ever took away the body and left the clothes, especially when it was fine linen and new. Anyone would rather choose to carry a dead body in its clothes than carry a naked corpse while leaving the grave clothes behind. Besides, what tomb robber would find leisure to fold up the linen?

The folded up burial cloths tell us that the Lord Jesus rose from the dead and he will never die again. Unlike ghosts who supposedly appear wearing their grave clothes or Lazarus who came out of the tomb with his grave clothes on, the Lord Jesus rose from the dead and laid the grave clothes aside. He rose to immortal life. He will never die again. He came out free of the encumbrances of the burial cloths. He set them aside because he was clothed with the robes of glory. As the prophet Elijah dropped his mantle as he ascended to heaven on a flaming chariot, so also the Lord Jesus left behind his earthly burial clothes because he will no longer need them in heaven where death is no more.

St. Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians said that we should clear out the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, so that we may celebrate the feast with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. When we arise from the death of sin to the life of righteousness, we must leave our grave-clothes behind us…we must put off our corruptions. We have gone through the difficult discipline of Lent. Having confessed our sins, we have made reparation for them through our acts of mortification. Holy Week has witnessed the intensity of our penance. Now that it ends with the feast of the Resurrection, it is not right to go back to our former ways. The end of Holy Week does not mean back to regular programming. Rather, we should strive to rise from where we have fallen and follow Christ more resolutely. “If you have been raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Think of what is above and not of what is on earth.”

Our Lenten journey culminates with our personal and collective renunciation of Satan, his works and his empty promises. This means that we have to really leave our grave clothes behind. The renunciation will be followed by the renewal of our faith in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This entails a serious commitment from us to strive to be better disciples, more resolute followers of Jesus. Let us rise from the tomb together with Jesus today. Let us leave behind our grave clothes and put on our wedding garments for we shall attend a feast. Christ, our Paschal Lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us celebrate the feast with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. 

O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!

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