Day 36: Wednesday of 5th week of Lent

Church of the Holy Sepulcher

THE RISING OF JESUS FROM THE DEAD

 

  1. Document: Holy Scripture Readings

1.1.  First Reading: The Book of prophet Daniel 3: 14-20,91-92,95

1.2.  Gospel Reading: The Gospel of St John 8: 31-42

1.3.  Simple Comment: King Nebuchadnezzar’s attitude towards the three young men changes from wrath to wonder, from wonder to praise, and from praise to worship. In seeing God’s protection over the three young men whom he ordered to be thrown into the burning furnace, the King recognizes his mistake and acknowledges the truth of the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. Sadly, different and even opposite is the reaction of the crowd to Jesus. Despite his many miracles, signs and wonders, the people are unflinching and stubborn in their unbelief.

 

  1. Monument: The Holy Sepulchre

2.1.  On descending from the chapel over the mound of the crucifixion, one will pass a large stone slab, revered as the site of the thirteenth station of the cross, where Jesus’ dead body is first in the arms of Mary, then washed and prepared for burial.

2.2.  Round a wall of paintings and towards the center of the rotunda, a look upwards gives one a view of the large cupola of the Basilica. Right beneath the cupola and in the center of the round floor stands a marble monument, like a little house, with many lamps and candles in front of its entrance. The monument contains within it the shelf on which the body of Jesus was laid to rest, until he could finally be buried after the Sabbath as the gospels tell us. This is called the Holy Sepulchre – site of the empty tomb of Jesus.

 

  1. Lenten Reflection

3.1.  Jesus’ mission – doing the Father’s work – meets opposite reactions. The humble and lowly sinner accepts Jesus and experiences a change of life, while the self-righteous and proud Pharisee remains unmoved and adamant with his disbelief. Truth indeed sets a humble person free; instead it resists the proud.

3.2.  If the above is true for tangible miracles performed by Jesus during his lifetime, one can imagine how much more the Pharisees reacted to the fact of the empty tomb. According to the Gospel of St Matthew, the chief priests bribed the soldiers who told them of the violent earthquake and the vision of the angel indicating the tomb was empty and Jesus had risen. They instructed them not to tell anyone of the incident but instead spread the news that the obsession of the disciples over Jesus’ greatness made them steal his dead body during the night.

3.3.  We run into the same danger of a Pharisaic attitude unless we are open and humble enough like Nebuchadnezzar to accept that we could be wrong. In fact, Jesus in his risen existence is present in many ways in our lives – by way of a member of our family who corrects our faults, by way of a minister of the Church who offers us advice on the spiritual life especially through the sacrament of Reconciliation, by way of a poor person whose hapless situation pricks our consciences. However, pride and indifference can make us hold fast to our mindsets and prejudices. So we do not experience conversion!

 

  1. Contemporary Filipino Question: The 40-day season of Lent is about to end. A few more days and we would already be in the Easter season. Did the Lenten practices of prayer, fasting and almsgiving make a dent in our life? Can we point to some significant changes in our faith and trust in God? In our love and concern for our neighbor? In an honest assessment of our habits? If Lent has not brought some conversion in our life, all our practices would have given us merely the empty tomb, not the experience of the risen Christ.