Easter Sunday of the Resurrection of the Lord Father Mike


Apr 21, 2019 - If the Shroud of Turin is the burial cloth of Jesus, and there is much good ... favor in spite of the dubious carbon dating of 1988 (see excellent ...

Easter Sunday of the Resurrection of the Lord Father Mike Holloran April 21, 2019, Year C On the excited report of Mary Magdalene, Peter and the other disciple ran to the tomb to see for themselves. The “other disciple” was St. John, the author of this Gospel. He liked to cloak himself in anonymity this way. Better than saying, “I outran Peter and got to the tomb first!” And they found the tomb just as Mary Magdalene had described, with the stone rolled away and the body of Jesus missing. But the tomb was not entirely empty. Here John gives a first-person, eyewitness account of what he and Peter saw when they entered the tomb. They “saw the burial cloths there, and the cloth that had covered his head not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place.” Since John mentions these cloths so specifically, there must be something significant about them, so significant that the sight of them caused John to believe, “for they did not yet understand the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead.” In other words, something about the burial cloths caused John to believe what he would already have known if he had understood the Scripture. So, what was it about the burial cloths? If the Shroud of Turin is the burial cloth of Jesus, and there is much good evidence in its favor in spite of the dubious carbon dating of 1988 (see excellent book by Ian Wilson), and if Peter and John noticed this image of Jesus on his burial cloth, that would certainly be a sign that something completely extraordinary had happened to his body, something like resurrection from the dead. It may seem strange that none of the Gospels mention an image on the cloth, but, on the other hand, by the time the Gospels were being composed his disciples had already seen the risen Lord with their own eyes, conversed with him, touched his wounds. After all that, an image left on a cloth might have seemed like an interesting but very secondary piece of evidence. Their witness to the world was not, “We know the Lord is risen because we saw his picture on a cloth”, it was “We know the Lord is risen because we saw him!” Apart from any possible image, was there something about how the burial cloth was laying there, and the cloth that had covered his head rolled up in a separate place? John says twice that they saw the burial cloth “there”, and the other cloth in a separate place. Where was “there”? Presumably where Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea left the body on Good Friday, probably on a narrow shelf chiseled into the wall of the chamber. Some 1

have suggested that if the body of Jesus underwent an instantaneous transition to a spiritual state, had become a spiritual body as St. Paul describes in his explanation of the resurrection of the dead in First Corinthians (Ch. 15), the cloth covering his body would have just collapsed in place. To find it that way would seem very strange, not at all what you would expect if the body had been stolen. What about the cloth that had covered his head, rolled up by itself? The book by Ian Wilson on the Shroud explains that in the custom of the time a cloth would have been put over Jesus' face while he hung dead on the cross until his body could be taken down. That cloth would not have been left on his head in the tomb, but it would have been left in the tomb because of having blood on it. The Jews had strict rules about blood. Any blood spilled had to be buried with the body. So, Joseph of Arimathea or Nicodemus likely would have rolled it up and left it in the tomb. Or was it simply the presence of the cloth but not the body that convinced John that the body had not been stolen, as Mary Magdalene first assumed. Grave robbing was a problem in ancient times, but graves were robbed for the valuables buried with the deceased, not for the bodies of the deceased. The only thing buried with Jesus was the large linen cloth in which he had been wrapped. In a day before mass production of cloth on mechanical looms, such a cloth would have been expensive indeed. That the cloth was there, and the body not indicated that grave robbers were not responsible. But who would have a motive to steal the body of Jesus? Not the Sanhedrin. They posted a guard because they were afraid his disciples would do it and perpetrate a fraud. Not the guards. To play a prank like that would have cost them their heads. The disciples might have had a motive, but they were just as shocked and confused by the event as anyone else or refusing to believe it like Thomas. Through a process of elimination, we reach the same conclusion that St. John reached as soon as he saw the burial cloths. In fact, his being convinced by whatever he saw is itself evidence, as is the behavior of the whole group of disciples form that day on. They all came out of hiding and spent the rest of their lives risking their lives, most of them losing their lives, to proclaim Christ risen from the dead. Would they do that if they knew it was a fraud? Would you die rather than admit to a lie? Someone would have spilled the beans at some point if it was not true. The logical conclusion is that the tomb was not entered and disturbed. It was exited by someone whose risen life would now disturb the world-- disturb those who had tried to get rid of him: Pilate, Annas and Caiaphas, Herod; disturb those who still want to be rid of him and his pesky Church; but gladden the hearts of the rest of us. So, a glad and happy Easter to you and yours! 2

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