Tag Archives: Easter

He is Risen! The apparent contradiction between Mary Magdalene and St. Thomas

fra-angelico-noli-me-tangereJesus is Risen in accordance with the Scriptures. The women are the first witnesses and among those women is St. Mary Magdalene, to whom Jesus says the famous words “Noli me tangere..” that is “Do not cling to me,” going on to a rather odd explanation of “for I have not yet ascended to my Father.”(John 20:17). Then not long after this He speaks to St. Thomas offering His wounds to be touched as proof of His Resurrection. While it is uncertain that Thomas actually did touch Jesus, he was certainly invited to. So why the difference?

It has been suggested that Jesus was responding to the two different approaches to His Resurrection. Mary Magdalene had seen His Passion, suffered with Him to the last and she loved Him with what many commenters put as an “earthly love” which was a real, giving love (agape) up to a point, but Jesus was more than an earthly man, He is God Incarnate and in His Resurrected Body He is Present in a more heavenly way than before. In telling Mary not to cling to Him, He is warning her that He is not staying in this form on earth now, She must begin to learn to love Him in a fuller way so that when He returns to Heaven she mustn’t lose hope, but have even greater love and hope.

Poor old Thomas, on the other hand, had felt the rug pulled from under him as Jesus was arrested and the news that He had been condemned reached him. When He is told Jesus has Risen, it’s more than his battered hope can handle. Jesus appears to him and show He is there Body and Soul, not a ghost or a walking corpse, but a truly Resurrected person.

The Resurrection was a massive shift for the apostles and disciples who all had their own personal view of who Jesus should be and what He should do. Even after all that had happened in the last eight days they still approached Him asking if now He would restore Israel.

There are so many flavours of Jesus among Christians even today. It’s very difficult not to cling to the Jesus we have made and to believe in the Jesus who presents Himself to us. But once we have met Him, we can’t help falling to our knees saying “My LORD and my GOD!” with Thomas.

Good Friday:Stripping of the altar

We always begin the Good Friday Liturgy with a walk of witness. The abortion mill is open today, something deeply sad. We stopped with the cross and prayed for a while and then walked around the block back to church.

The Gospel was John’s Passion and as always we had the role of being the people who sent Jesus to the cross. Even though we do this every year, read out the words, “Crucify Him!” and the awful words, “We have no king but Caesar!” It’s still very powerful and deeply distressing.

Thank God that our tabernacles only look like this once a year.




Easter Sunday: Heaven has won; choose your side.

Very early in the morning of the first day of the week, that is Sunday morning, three of the four women who had stood at the foot of the cross, head off to the tomb where Jesus is supposed to be.

Mary Magdalene has a jar of ointment, and possibly Mary Salome too, with Mary Cleopas going with them to assist.

Where is the Blessed Mother? Why has she not gone with them? Well, she is with John, (who is the son of Mary Salome) and the reason she doesn’t go to anoint the body of her Son, is because she has very likely already seen Him.  Tradition has it that Jesus first came to His Mother after the Resurrection. This would have been a deeply personal meeting, not to be recorded in Scripture.

I have heard some people who are apparently Christian, who insist that Jesus did not honour His mother. He did. He was without sin, and breaking the fourth commandment, the very commandment He was part of composing, was not something He did.  He could hardly demand that we honour both our physical parents, and our spiritual ones, if He did not do so Himself.

The women had waited through the Sabbath-Passover. They could not make either the Sabbath observances, nor the Passover celebration as they were unclean. They had touched a dead body, with blood on it as well. Even now they are observing the law on burial. Jesus could not receive the rituals of burial, the washing before annointing, because he was covered in blood, and he had died a criminal, and he was seen as cut off from Israel. So, no washing allowed.

You will notice the women took ointment but no water or cloths.

Jesus is risen, and the women are the first witnesses. Just as shepherds were the first witness of His birth, Jesus is overturning the legal silliness of the manmade traditions. Shepherds and women were not allowed to be witnesses in court. When you read the story of Susannah (Dan 13) you will see she was unable to speak on her own defence, the boy Daniel had to speak for her – and he did.

Those of you doing my lesson set Via Guade will get more details about all of this but I thought I would point out a couple of things here that have come up in radio shows recently. One person asked how the Law of the Sabbath was changed so that Christians began to meet on a Sunday. Well, this is the moment. The Lord’s Day is the day of Resurrection, the Eighth Day or Day of Completion/Accomplishment/Consumation. The New Paschal Liturgy of the Lamb of God, the Lamb who stands as though slain (See Rev) is done on Sunday.

That same day Jesus meets with Cleopas and his companion (probably Luke) at the house in Emmaus, where Mary, Cleopas’ wife probably served them. Then Jesus took the bread and blessed it and broke it and…vanished from their sight.

Then they knew Him in the breaking of the Bread and their hearts burned within them.

So every Sunday, on the Lord’s Day we gather to break bread, to know Him in the breaking of the Bread, and to receive Him wounded but raised- the Lamb standing- Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. This is Heaven on earth.

It is not merely a symbol – although it is also a symbol. The early Fathers and the teaching of the Church from the very beginning understood the real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.

Day 3 of the Divine Mercy Novena.

O diem praeclarum! Christus Resurrexit!

Lent is over at last and He Is Risen! O what a beautiful day. Christ is Risen.

Lent has been utterly tough this year and last night as the lads went off to serve for the Vigil I was beginning to think I would still find myself in a personal Lent this morning. But no. I feel so much better.

The weight is lifted. I can breathe easier and the pain is less. Whoopee!

We are getting the dinner ready and then we are off to Mass (without the boys who have earned a chilled morning at home as they served last night).

The all display telling the story of the last nine days is still up from the Raising of Lazarus (Saturday before Palm Sunday) to the Resurrection (today).

I had found a picture of Mary weeping at the empty tomb with Jesus and I must admit to begin with Easter Eve felt a bit like that for me.

Mary is looking at the empty tomb, not with joy of the resurrection but in sad bewilderment. Where is He?

But she gets to see Him soon enough and to adore.

So Happy Easter.

Holy Saturday; silence and the harrowing of hell (hades)

After the church and altar are stripped on Good Friday and the Tabernacle, like the Holy of Holies back then, is left open and empty, it’s curtain asunder, there is silence.

The silence for us is the silence of waiting. We know He is Risen and we know that tonight the church will blaze with new light and all the beauty and pageant to welcome the Bridegroom. But there is still a sense of waiting, and sorrow for what He suffered.

On this day over two thousand years ago the people of Jerusalem were celebrating a joint Passover and Sabbath. But the lintel stone of the Temple had broken in a sudden earthquake and the 24ft heavily embroidered curtain over the Holy of Holies had been torn from top to bottom, as God mourned. We know some of this from Scripture and some from Josephus. We might have evidence from others.

Those who had not been frightened out of their wits by the earthquake, the darkness and the sight of dead people wandering the streets would have woken to a new Passover. So they would remember the blood of the lamb and freedom from slavery. They would have drunk the cup of blessing as Christ and His apostles had done on Thursday night and then the cup of remembrance of the ten plagues culminating in the death of the first born sons of Egypt; only now our First Born Son was in a tomb.

With the third cup they can thank God for their freedom from slavery. Christ drank this cup with his disciples-the cup of the New Covenant, in which we are freed by his blood.

He did not drink the forth cup at the Passover-the Cup of Completion/Consummation. He left the meal for the garden where he was betrayed and then tortured to death.

Finally he drank a little vinegar from a hyssop stick and this was the fourth cup, where He said “It is completed.” And He died.

In the silence of Holy Saturday we remember how the completed New Covenant opened the gates of heaven for us all. Christ descends to the place where the dead await and those who can accept new life are taken to heaven. Tradition has it that the entry to this Promised Land began with taking Adam and Eve. the Icons always show Christ the New Adam, son of the New Eve, taking the first Adam and Eve by the hand and lifting them from their graves. He is the God of the living not the dead.

And so we wait. And we wait in silence.

I wonder what happened to Malchus.

All four Gospels tell of how the High Priest’s servant got his ear cut off when Jesus was arrested. The synoptics don’t mention names and it is sensibly surmised that this is because Peter would have been in even more trouble if they had openly named him.

35893fJohn however names both Peter and the servant, Malchus. John was a relative of Caiaphas and Annas so he was probably in the know as to the names, but there is something about the deliberate way John says “The servant’s name was Malchus” that struck me yesterday when the Gospel was being read.

John understood the Jewish view of the power of names-of course. Malchus means counsellor or king. Oh the irony. While John is the only one of the writers to call Malchus by name (and name Peter as the sword swinger) so Luke the Greek physician is the only one to record that Jesus healed the sliced ear.

Outside of the Gospels though I don’t think we hear of Malchus again. There doesn’t appear to be a St Malchus and yet he seems like someone who would have become Christian in the end. He has heard both sides of the story. On the one side is the High Priest and the Temple who having waiting all this time for a Messiah don’t want the one on offer, and on the other side if the Gospel message Jesus brings. Malchus gets to choose his High Priest.

Jesus seems to make it remarkably easy for him.

The men arrive with Judas and Jesus asks them who they are looking for. “Jesus the Nazerene,” they say and He says “I AMHe.” At this John tells us they stepped back and fell to the ground. The implication is the power of the Word the “I AM” caused this. So Malchus ends up on the ground because of the Name of God.

After this Malchus gets his ear cut off and Jesus heals it back.

None of this makes any difference and Jesus is arrested and hauled off to the High Priest.

Caiaphas is in an interesting position. He is High Priest sitting on the seat of Moses and therefore God speaks through him in a way. I suspect-but I haven’t read anything on this, that just as the Pope is infallible (through Peter’s seat)-that is protected from teaching error in faith and morals, so was the High Priest. He has said “One man must die for the people”

Jesus is crucified and then there is the Sabbath when all is silent.

The apostles went back to the Upper room to hide out and feel sorry. NOT ONE of them went off with the women on Sunday morning to see if He had risen. They didn’t seem to believe He would.

Interestingly though Caiaphas had been listening and understood Jesus promise to rise all too well and wanted to make sure it didn’t happen. He sent guards to the tomb to make sure no one stole the body.

So what happens to Malchus? Who does he listen to once that ear is healed? We are not told and the silence on it bothers me. There are no legends from long ago, that I can find, that tell us Malchus was baptised.

Was he at the foot of the cross making sure the deed was done? Did he see the darkened sky, and feel the earthquake. Surely he saw the huge lintel above the Holy of Holys broken in two, ripping the great curtain from top to bottom.

But none of this appears to have moved him.

It seems that despite hearing what Jesus had to say, despite seeing up close and personal the spite and fear of Caiaphas; despite the miracles he witnessed and even received, Malchus never believed.