It matters Jesus rose from the dead in a glorified body.
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The resurrection of Jesus is a reality beyond doubt. The liturgical season of Easter fills us with immense joy and profound hope. However, each time we contemplate the gospel passages detailing the resurrection of Jesus we are faced with a sense of strangeness.
The barriers of time and space no longer apply to him. The Lord appears and disappears with shocking suddenness. He continually demonstrates his physical reality. The Apostles and the disciples see him, hear him and eat with him. Thomas is told to touch his wounds. The stone rolled away from the entrance and the carefully folded burial cloths direct our gaze to the physical. He has truly risen.
The disbelief and uncertainty evidenced by those who saw him testify to an apparent strangeness in the appearance of the newly risen Christ. Slowly they came to recognize him, but they still struggled with doubt.
Their response shows us that although the risen Jesus is the same Jesus that died on Calvary. His physical reality is now different than before. The body of the risen Lord is indeed his physical body, but he now moves about with a glorified body.
Repeatedly the gospels stress that something extraordinary has occurred. The Lord is tangible, but he has been transformed. His life is different from what it once was. His glorified body transcends the limitations of time and space. For this reason, he can pass through the closed door of the Upper Room. He appears and disappears as he desires.
At times his disciples cannot recognize him precisely because their physical reality moves within time and space, and the Lord’s physical reality is no longer subject to time and space, although he exists within time and space.
The clarity of the physical reality of the risen Jesus provides us with the certainty of the existence of the Lord and the veracity of everything that he has taught us. The empty tomb and the neatly folded burial cloths illustrate that redemption is not only for the soul, but for the body as well.
Applied to our practical daily living, the reality of the Risen Jesus fills us with profound peace. There is no need to worry or to fear. He is truly with us. With Jesus, we know that we are journeying, not to the sunset, but to the sunrise. We enter into a new relationship with God when we really believe that God is as Jesus told us that he is. We become absolutely sure of his love. We become absolutely convinced that he is above all else a redeeming God. The fear of suffering and death vanishes, for suffering and death means going to the one God who is the awesome God of love. In reality, our life long journey is a journey to the eternal Easter in heaven.
When we truly believe, we enter into a new relationship with life itself. When we make Jesus our way of life, life becomes new. Life is clad with a new loveliness, a new light and a new strength. When we embrace Jesus as our Lord and Savior, when we develop a personal relationship with him, we realize that life does not end, it changes and it goes from incompletion to completion, from imperfection to perfection, from time to eternity.
When we truly believe in Jesus, we are resurrected in this life because we are freed from the fear and worry that are characteristic of a godless life; we are freed from the unhappiness of a life filled with sin; we are freed from the loneliness of a life without meaning. When we walk with Jesus and follow his way, life becomes so powerful that it cannot die but must find in death the transition to a higher life.
The bodily resurrection of Jesus from the dead makes our entire journey to eternal life tangible, real, certain and credible. Because Jesus is physically alive, his Church is visible. Because Jesus is corporeal, the sacraments are visible aqueducts of his divine life. Because Jesus physically transcends time and space, he remains with us in the Eucharist as the "medicine of immortality" (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1405). Because Jesus has truly risen from the dead and ascended to the Father, we await with joyful hope his return in glory.
The reality of the risen Jesus fills us with peace and consolation because he is truly with us. His resurrection assures us of his final victory over evil. The genuineness of Easter keeps us from worry, fear and discouragement. It sustains us in times of trial and it opens the heart to the expectation of eternal life.
My dear friends, as we contemplative the gospel narratives about the resurrection of Jesus, there is something in the Gospel of Saint John that is difficult to understand. Why did Mary Magdalen think that the Risen Jesus was the gardener? “Supposing him to be the gardener…” (John 20: 15).
Think of a place on earth that is very, very hot. Think of a time when there were no washing machines; no dry cleaners; no Malls to buy clothes; people making their own clothes; and people have only a few outfits.
During the time when Jesus walked the earth, gardeners worked naked. So, if Mary Magdalen looked upon a naked man and thought that he was the gardener, could it be possible that Jesus rose from the dead naked and if that were the case, why is it important for our consideration?
Referring to John the Evangelist when he waited for Peter before entering the empty tomb, the same narrative says: “he bent down and saw the linen cloths lying on the ground…” (John 20: 5). Then when Peter enters the tomb, the Gospel tells us that “he saw the linen cloths on the ground, and also the cloth that had been over his head; this was not with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself” (John 20: 6-7).
We live in a pornographic culture. Millions of people are addicted to pornography. It is all around us.
What is pornography? It is a lie. It is counterfeit. It is a distortion. And you know who the father of lies is, right?
The only way to be free from pornography is through the truth of the human body.
Go to Rome. Enter into the great basilicas; the museums; the plazas and what do you see? The naked body; the truth of the body.
And you know what? In Rome you do not notice an obsession with pornography the way you do in our own culture. Why? Because the Romans, like everyone who lives in a Catholic culture are immersed in the truth of the body.
Catholicism is physical. We have art and music. We have poetry and incense. We have feast days with food and wine. We have gardens and fountains. We have saints, mystics and incorrupt bodies lying in tombs. We are immersed in the physical because Jesus has risen from the dead with a glorified body.
With the resurrection of Jesus, the physical is exalted.
“The glory of God is man fully alive” are the beautiful words of Saint Irenaeus.
Too many people are walking around like disconnected from others, absorbed with themselves, because they are immersed in the pornographic.
We need to be able to see again.
We need a new romance.
We need to fall in love again.
As Saint Augustine says, "To fall in love with God is the greatest of romances, to seek him the greatest adventure, to find him the greatest human achievement."
“We are the people of life because God, in his unconditional love, has given us the Gospel of life and by this same Gospel we have been transformed and saved. We have been ransomed by the ‘Author of life’ at the price of his precious blood. Through the waters of Baptism we have been made a part of him, as branches which draw nourishment and fruitfulness from the one tree. Interiorly renewed by grace of the Spirit, who is the Lord and giver of life, we have become a people for life and we are called to act accordingly” (Evangelium Vitae
, Blessed Pope John Paul II, #79.1)
Perhaps the notion of the nakedness of the Risen Jesus is difficult to consider, even daunting to write about.
However, is not the Eucharist the Risen Body of Jesus? Cannot we affirm that the Risen Jesus is naked in heaven? Thus, cannot the naked body of Jesus draw us out of sin and allow us to see our own body and every other body in a different way, free from lust?
Although we will always struggle with concupiscence until the resurrection of the body, is it not possible for the naked Risen Jesus to free us from lust and allow us to love correctly?
In other words, is it not possible that the exposed Eucharist more clearly draws us, through grace, to understand the nuptial relationship between me and God?
Is it not possible that the exposed Eucharist more clearly makes the Body of the Lord a gift for me and me a gift for him?
Theologically, there is no difference between the Blessed Sacrament reserved in the Tabernacle and the Blessed Sacrament exposed in the Monstrance. But, we do use the word exposed. Is this not the same as saying naked? Is he not open, vulnerable and exposed for us, so that we may receive his love?
Is it not possible that the risen and naked body of Christ, solemnly exposed in the Monstrance, can free us from the darkness of lust so that we can see our body and the bodies of others with a new vision, the vision of the redeemed?
My dear friends, Easter is here again. But, for all of us who are followers of Jesus, Easter is every day. Let us spread the joy of the Gospel to everyone around us.
Fr. James Farfagliais the Pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church in Corpus Christi, TX. You can visit him on the web at www.fatherjames.org.