[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 Jesus, 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 night 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!)
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This is an example of the “Rosary Rants” series of posts with links collected on the sidebar of http://holysoulshermitage.com. I put this up last year. I would just add a couple more thoughts this year.
- All through the 1980s and a long time after that, it was all the fad for knuckleheaded priests to spend their Easter sermons making sure that no one believed in the actual, physical, bodily Resurrection of Jesus, secundum carnem, according to the flesh. They would be sure to speak of meta-historical (beyond real history) event, so that “encounters” with meta-hysterical phenomena spoke of existentialist niceness leading humanity towards the cosmic and ever so impersonal nirvana-ized Omega “Point”. Cold as ice. Not quite the experience of the no longer doubting Apostle Thomas, who touched a beating Sacred Heart blazing as a furnace of love in the midst of the Trinity for all mankind.
- In my Synoptic Gospels course at the Angelicum University, the Professor kept speaking in this fashion, constantly pounding away all that which he pretended was meta-historical. He begged for questions on this throughout the course, about twenty minutes into each lecture, saying that we can raise our hands during the last three minutes of each lecture. Up my hand would go with three minutes to go until the end of the lecture. He would always defer any questions until the next lecture, and continue talking. And so it went until the end of the course. On the last day, I think my hand touched the ceiling. So he gave in and took my question: “How can the resurrection be un-bodily if Jesus ate a very bodily fish in the presence of the Apostles, who speak with Him and touch Him?” His response, with two minutes and fifty seconds to go was to look at me with great sadness, dumbfounded, for perhaps five full seconds, which is not easy to do when under pressure. Then, confused, he looked about and finally got a glimpse of the clock, and so said: “Look at the clock! We’re out of time!” And he swept his books off the desk and ran.
- I told that story to a Cardinal (I know many), who immediately replied, quite offended, and agreeing with the professor, saying that, “Well, of course, the fish would disappear immediately since it has no place in a non-historical body.” I’ve come across this many times actually: “There are no latrines in heaven!” they say. Honestly! This is the basis for their theology of a meta-historical resurrection!
- I think I’ll stick with Thomas, with my fingers shoved into the nail wounds of the hands of Jesus, with my hand shoved right into the side, into that ever so Sacred Heart of Jesus, beating, all very physically, bodily, me on my knees, crying out, “My Lord and my God!” Ahhh! The sovereign majesty of Jesus who permits me to believe, to love Him! Thank you, Jesus. And thank you, Mary Immaculate, for interceding for me. For otherwise, I, no better than anyone else, and oh so much worse, would never believe, would never love, but would play mind games of theological sophistry to keep myself at a distance. But no, you’ve brought me close, right up to the Heart of Jesus.
Surrexit Dominus! Alleluia!
Surrexit Dominus vere! Alleluia! Alleluia!
We pray for all those who do not believe, do not adore and do not love Jesus, that they might do so, and do so today! Today is the Day of Salvation! Dies Domini!