[The "Noli me tangere!" sculpture above is one of my all time favorites. Antonio Raggi did the work under the direction of Gian Lorenzo Bernini. You can find it at the chapel of San Domenico e San Sisto attached to the Angelicum University in Rome. There's a little chair around the back corner of this back corner side altar This was one of my wanting-to-be-a-hermit hide-aways for many decades, starting way back in 1980! Time flies!]
Please God, more Scriptural and Patristic sources will be added to the present “rant style” meditations when circumstances at Holy Souls Hermitage aren’t quite so utterly barbaric.
The purpose of this first run through these mysteries is to note especially the goodness and kindness of Jesus amidst the violence and chaos back in the day… and today. Hang on, it might be a bit of a rough ride, as rough and tumble as we focus on, in this post, the resurrection of Jesus.The violence here won’t be with the plottings of the a few concerning the “stealing the body of Jesus”, but rather with a certain kind of touching.
There is so very much material. I will only comment on this round through the mysteries on just one aspect of this first glorious mystery, that which refers to the “Noli me tangere!” command: Do not touch me! Let’s take a look at just three verses, at Jesus commanding the doubting Thomas, in fact, to touch Him:
John 20,27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.” 28 Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” [nab]
Mary, the Mother of Jeus, who sat with Mary of Magdala at the tomb while the great stone was rolled into place. She didn’t return to take care of Jesus’ body because she knew He would not be there. She had learned something from the time Jesus had previously disappeared for three days and knight after His Bar-Mitzvah experience in the Temple.
Mary of Magdala did return, but all she needed to believe was for Jesus to say, “Mary!” And she immediately believed. As Mary, His mother, this Mary did not need to touch Jesus to believe. She merely wanted to express her joy. Jesus directed this to her evangelization of the Apostles.
Women are always, generally speaking, more faithful than men. They can suffer more, endure more. Men, however brave in battle, are, in the end, pretty weak when it comes to an even fiercer reality of who we are before the Lord, who bears the wounds of the most epic battle upon His risen Body. The apostles were skeptical, until the saw the state of the empty tomb. The holiness of the place must have overwhelmed them. The angels, unseen by them, must have nevertheless been whooping them upside the head to have them believe. And they did. Except Thomas. He’s a hard case.
Of all of them, only Thomas needed not only to see with his eyes, but also to touch with his hands. Jesus, ever so good and so kind, permits just this, with a bit of ferocity. I, for one, can only imagine that Thomas is overwhelmed, and cannot for a second bring himself to touch Jesus and those gaping wounds of His, Jesus being so majestic in His resurrection. Thomas is crushed with shame and repentance and joy and… and… shame once again…
Surely Jesus had to take Thomas’ finger and shove it through the holes in His hands. Surely Jesus had to take his hand, his hand mind you, and shove that right into His side, right into His still pierced open Sacred Heart, which, though pierced open, was beating with life, with love for us, despite the worst violence that we could vomit upon Him. He now had the right in justice to have mercy on us, having taken on what we deserve, the worst we can give out, death. He had and has the right to give us life.
Thomas had to feel this life with his hands, beating, again and again…
Thomas then — how could He not drop to His knees in thankful adoration of Him who was now the object of his belief: “My Lord and my God!” he exclaims, unable to say more of his regret, repentance, joy…
The Irish were given an indult for the Novus Ordo to exclaim “My Lord and my God!” after the consecrations at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. How fitting: blessed are they who have not seen and yet have believed.
Thomas was the one to exclaim: Let us go! We will die with you!He let bitterness of feeling sorry for himself overtake him. Jesus knows how to cure this. In this way and that, He can do the same with us, also through each other, shoving our hands spiritually, as it were, right into His Heart. If Jesus wants us to believe, even though we do not see Him or touch Him, He will have us believe. We must cooperate with His grace, keeping us with the sacraments, persevering in our poor attempts to pray… but He will work with that and provide everything for us, Himself, actually. We receive Him in the Most Blessed Sacrament and speak with Him, heart with Sacred Heart, not so much cor ad Cor loquitur (heart speaking to Heart) but cor cum Cordis loquitur (heart speaking with Heart).
Jesus, risen from the dead, joyous to show us His goodness and kindness. (Ten Hail Marys!)