The Empty Tomb
“He is not here. He is risen as He has promised.” John 20:1-9
Saints leave behind their bodies when they go to heaven. Their bodies we venerate. Some remain incorrupt. Some are cut and venerated in several places like in the case of St. Francis Xavier. The Gesú Church in Rome has his right arm while the cathedral in Japan has a bone from the other arm. But Jesus’ body went up to heaven, like Mary’s body. So we don’t have a first class relic of Jesus – only second class relic that is the shroud in Turin which was used to wrap his dead body.
In the gospel the women who first came to anoint the dead body of Jesus saw only the empty tomb. But the risen Lord they did not see. Ironically the ones to see Him were the guards stationed at the tomb. But why were they guarding a dead body? The Pharisees thought ahead that the apostles might steal His body and claim that He has risen as He said He would so that more people would believe in Him. However, the soldiers did see the resurrection but were bribed by the Pharisees to spread the fake news that the apostles stole the body while they were sleeping. Although people believed their story it had evident flaws like why did the guards sleep if they were ordered to watch. And if they were sleeping, how did they know it was stolen by the apostles.
The Apostles saw only the empty tomb and not Jesus resurrected. But it was enough to believe that He rose. Yes, later they would get to see Him, starting with the Blessed Virgin Mary – which is re-enacted in the “sugat/salubong” procession, then Mary Magdalene and the other women, and finally Peter and the other apostles in the Last Supper Room. Why appear first to the women? Maybe because they were the last to leave Jesus at Calvary while the men were the first to abandon Jesus.
The tomb was empty except for the burial cloths one of which was neatly folded. Robbers who steal in their hurry won’t have time to arrange the cloths. The tomb was empty but not void of meaning. If Jesus was not there in the tomb and not stolen, then where is He? The empty tomb is proof convincing enough to believe that Jesus rose as He said He would. That being said Jesus is worth our trust in everything He has taught.
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