Posted by: fvbcdm | April 10, 2012

Easter Tuesday (10 April 2012)

The gospels tell us that on their way to the tomb in which Jesus had been laid, the holy women were worried about who would roll back the stone for them since it was so big and heavy.  Notice: they say “roll back.” If we are to understand the situation, we must know something about Palestinian burial practice in those days.

The soil of Palestine is very rocky;  to dig in it is difficult.  So to provide a fitting place for a dead body, it was customary to find an outcropping of rock or a hillside that extended up from the ground at least four or five feet. The one who wanted to prepare a tomb would then tunnel into that rock or hillside and create a room in which one or more shelves could be cut into the side walls to receive the bodies of the dead.  Then, to prevent grave robbing or animals entering the tomb, a wheel of stone was cut large enough to be rolled across the mouth of the tomb.  That stone wheel could be rolled away, up an inclined plane for the next burial, and then returned to its normal place over the mouth of the tomb.  But a stone wheel perhaps a foot thick and with a diameter of four feet would be extremely heavy, and would require the efforts of several strong men to budge it.

Once the tomb was open, it would be necessary for an adult to bend over or kneel down to look into the tomb, and probably hold a candle or lamp to see what was inside.  So, here come the holy women with their supplies of spices and aromatics before sunrise on that Sunday morning.  Who did they think would move the stone for them?  Surely they knew THEY couldn’t do it unassisted.  Maybe they hoped that Pilate’s guard would help them. But when they got there, they realized that they had no problem with the stone.  It no longer covered the mouth of the tomb. The body of Jesus was not there, but one, or two, angels were there to assure them that Our Lord had risen from death to new life.  And, in John’s gospel, Saint Mary Magdalen sees Our Lord, throws herself at his feet, and is then instructed by him to go and tell his disciples that he has risen. The whole scene is marked with excitement, delight, and tremendous joy.  Death on the cross and in the tomb has now been replaced by new life on a beautiful spring morning on the first day of the risen life of the Savior of the world!   Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you.  Father Victor Brown, O.P.

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