Wednesday, October 24, 2007

1st Glorious Mystery: The Resurrection (Joseph of Arimathea)

I am astounded! I would not have given my newly-made tomb to Jesus, would I, unless I knew he was either dying or else was already dead. It stands to reason, does it not? Someone who is living does not need a tomb.

I was the one who went to Pilate to ask for the body of Jesus to be taken down from the Cross. I could not climb up myself to unfasten his hands from the horizontal beam: I am a bit old for that these days. Still, I was able to stand at the foot of the Cross and help as John and a couple of youngsters from my household lifted Jesus from his gibbet.

His mother was there, waiting. Can you imagine the pain as I helped to lift his beloved and bloodstained body onto her lap? She cradled him as she must have held him when he was a baby, softly crooning the old lullaby that she must have sung when he was tiny. She stroked his matted hair and stiffened limbs, staining her hands with his blood.

Mary was in a little world all of her own, where there were only herself and Jesus. Perhaps Joseph was also present, but not before our gaze. Mary was dignified beyond belief, but her eyes were reddened and swollen as she sat there. She did not cry. Perhaps she had shed all the tears and none remained. Perhaps they would flow in the privacy of her room.

Her robes were also red as she relinquished her embrace of her Son, allowing us to carry him to my own newly-hewn tomb. I am one of the living, you see, who will soon need a tomb, and so I had been preparing for my own burial when I built the sepulchre, never knowing that I would be helping to carry a young man to lie on its rocky couch.

It was the eve of the Sabbath, so we did not have as much time as we would have liked to prepare the body of Jesus. We wanted to wash him thoroughly and anoint him with fragrant spices, but time moved on and the duties of the Sabbath, especially during the season of Passover, urged us to stop. After all, much as we dearly loved him, Jesus was dead. A delay of a few hours would make little difference. We could finish our labour of love once the Sabbath had finished. Reluctantly, John and I, with the help of the youngsters from my household, rolled the heavy stone across the entrance of the tomb and made our weary way home.

Now it is the third day and I stand at the entrance of the tomb once more. I can barely believe what I see, and I certainly do not understand the scene before me.

The heavy stone has been rolled away. There, on the slab, are the linen cloths we had used to wrap the body of Jesus. They have been carefully folded and placed neatly to one side, but the body of Jesus has gone.

The Magdalen told us a strange tale, saying that she met Jesus in the garden and mistook him for the gardener. She reported that he wanted her to tell the Apostles all that she had seen, which is exactly what she did, although they and I were more than a little sceptical. Nobody rises from the dead!

…or do they? I am beginning to wonder. Jesus was dead and dead men do not move by themselves. The story that the Magdalen tells us is more than a little unexpected, to say the least.

…but very little that Jesus said or did was ‘expected’. Has he, by any chance, come to life? How? What am I supposed to think? I do not know.

God bless,
Sr. Janet