“What is going on? Passages of Scripture that were read a thousand times are coming alive fraught with meaning when compared with the present situation of the Church. Ancient words are revealing this new reality. One more proof that there is nothing to despair about. God is in control, was and will always be in control. Have faith.” (Anonymous, January 2023)
But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in, they did not find the body. While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them. The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, ‘Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.’ Then they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest. Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told this to the apostles. But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; then he went home, amazed at what had happened. (Luke 24:13 NRSVACE)
Angels and women in the empty tomb
Are you worried contemplating the current crisis the Church is going through? You should not worry. The women that took spices to the tomb on that first day after Calvary did not know it was Resurrection Sunday. They were worried that the Master had been laid down with only some hasty preparations. They could not come during the Sabbath but they hurried to the tomb at dawn as soon as possible. They also worried (don’t we always do?) about the heavy stone blocking the entrance. The stone was placed there on Friday evening by several strong men. The women did not have the strength to deal with that big obstacle but they went ahead anyway. To their surprise, the stone was rolled away leaving the tomb open. Once they peeked inside, the body of the Master was not there.
The first miscalculation was to think they had to roll the stone aside. No need, it was done (by angels). The second was to expect Jesus’ body in the early stages of decomposition. Wrong guess. They should have remembered:
“For You will not abandon my soul to Sheol, nor will You let Your Holy One see decay.” (Psalm 16:10)
Those faithful ladies were not thinking in the scriptural details of the Messiah’s life and death. They just loved Jesus and wanted to help. However, their grief was turned into joy when two angels told them Jesus was alive. At first they were scared but then the angels gave them a brief scriptural refresh course and sent them back to the Apostles with the news. The teaching is clear: “do not look for the Living One among the dead.”
One could use this scene to learn about the present crisis of the Church.
The Passion of the Church mirrors the Passion of Our Lord
The infiltrated hierarchy of today is a graveyard filled with the spiritual cadavers of those who thought they could kill the Master and keep the Vineyard for themselves. Simply by thinking that way they have lost their souls. The gates of hell cannot prevail not even for one second. The moment they hatched their plan their souls “went to the darkness outside” and died.
There is a big obstacle placed between us and Our Lord. We wonder how are we going to get rid of the obstacle but God has removed it by His power. We worry because we think the situation is so bad we may not be able to do much, perhaps throw a few flowers to cover the stench of rotten flesh. No such need. Jesus is as clean and fresh as ever. God is in control. He is quite good at running the universe! He does not miss any details. The “twins” make their appearance here. Observe there are always “twins” at important turns of sacred history: Aaron and Moses, Joshua and Caleb, Annas and Caiaphas, Peter and Paul, etc. Those are the witnesses of God. (cf. Deuteronomy 19:15, Revelation 11)
The angels refreshed the memory of the women who then understood the situation as something that Jesus had given them ample warning about:
“the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.”
Our sisters are always quick to understand, it is us brothers who are always a little slow on the uptake. Nothing has changed in twenty centuries. The eleven, that only a few weeks prior were arguing about who was the greatest among them (Luke 9:46-47) gave proof of their acute perception powers by dismissing the first witnesses of the Resurrection. Their great reasoning? “What do they know? They’re women!” But Peter decides to investigate and lo and behold! the girls were right! The early hierarchy of the Church is not at its most stellar moment. Better get used to that, guys!
At the end times, when the world awakes to the fact that the age is coming to an end, the great men and leaders of both the nations and the Church will also be informed by a woman: Mary of Nazareth. In fact, Our Lady has been telling them what to do and the usual geniuses have been “pondering” if it is wise to listen to her. The delay in the consecration of Russia to her Immaculate Heart, the reluctance to reveal the Third Secret of Fatima, etc. should be enough to prove my point. With all due respect to our venerable leaders, I dare to give them a bit of advice: LISTEN TO HER!
Peter runs to the gravesite but it is way too late. He sees the empty tomb, his youngest Apostle (John) sees a message in the way the headrest is rolled up at the end of the slab where the Master’s head would have been. Young John represents those in the Church whose senses are attentive to the smallest signs from Heaven. They are in the moment, they are in tune with the spiritual reality that surrounds them: Christ has returned from death and nothing is lost, not even his simple daily habits. John must have realized the event marked a ‘before and after’ moment. The world and the Church will never be the same. The rest of the Apostles will eventually catch up but it will take a while and a lot of miracles to awake them from their slumber. It was the simple women that were up early at the first light of Sunday.
Think of this: the hierarchy of the Church (except St. John) checked out for the weekend while Christ was being crucified. Only the women and young John stood fearlessly next to Jesus in that dark hour. Now it is the turn of the Church to go though her Passion. Do you see any similarities?
Here on the other side of history
I got a wonderful gift from a friend this past week. I will share with you a remarkably insightful part of his email. Read it carefully and try to see how it locks perfectly with the matter we are studying in this post.
“Along these lines — though quite subtle, I think, the deacon at our new local church gave an excellent homily yesterday. He talked about the ancient temple in Jerusalem and said that the slaughter was so intense that there was a special drain to carry away the blood from the sin offering. He said (and I have never heard this before) that to move the blood along, they added water so that from the temple came a stream of blood and water from the sin offering. I stirred in my pew. Jesus said that they would destroy the temple and he would raise it back up in three days, referring to his body from which came blood and water as a sin offering. His body is the new temple and the new and complete sacrifice forever —continually being offered around the world— perhaps until now.” (Monday, January 16, 2023, at 5:41 PM)
Scripture is written in such a way that those who seek God sincerely will eventually see the Divine Handwriting and recognize it. Jesus spoke to his audience in the first century in such a way that they could understand the signs. God has infused the world with meaning so that we know it is He who is talking to us. Others cannot create parables with events, lives, names, kingdoms, etc. peppering history with symbols we can later decode and follow.
Many times before I have proposed the idea that there is a fabric of prophetic meaning underneath the words of Matthew 16. Recent Protestant converts insist in their same basic interpretation, ignoring the way the Fathers of the Church have read Scripture from the beginning. There is a parable hidden there and it has its own semiosis. The parable represents the central mystery of Christianity: the Logos has come to set things right. He is a warrior. He is not the warrior the Jews were expecting. His war is spiritual but it has a terrestrial component, a reflection of the war that first took place in Heaven. That parable is contained in the great scheme that God presents to mankind: Heaven and Earth have to be perfect reflections of each other. Included in that mirror image —among many— are the following images:
- Heaven and Earth
- Church Triumphant and Church Militant
- Christ the Cornerstone and St. Peter the Rock
The reflection that interest us now is the Passion and Resurrection of the Church that must follow the Passion and Resurrection of Christ . There are those who affirm that the Church is indefectible. They are right but they forget some details. Just like the apparent defeat of Christ in Calvary was designed to conceal the glorious victory of the Resurrection, the apparent defeat of the Church through vile treason and infiltration is concealing a victory so great that we cannot yet imagine it.
St. Peter and his successors began a long process that has now ended when Benedict XVI took the munus back to Heaven. All that is left on Vatican Hill now is a false reflection. Its falsity is apparent for those who know how to recognize the voice of the Shepherd. We seem to be facing an unsurmountable obstacle. Who is going to move the heavy stone for us? Will these spices and flowers be sufficient? What has happened to the Master’s Body during those hours of darkness?
There was no need to worry about that in 33 AD and there is no need for us to worry about that today. Our part is to remain loyal, God already did the rest. It is done even if we do not see it yet.
Prepare for the great victory, prepare for indescribable joy.
[More in the next post. This post is the first of a series.]
Those who understand the beautiful Neapolitan language will understand why I embedded this song here.