Sunday, April 21, 2019

(223) Living With Christ During the Easter Season Through Images of the Holy Land


The empty tomb within a shrine enclosed by the Church of the Holy Sepulcher..
Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb.  And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, approached, rolled back the stone, and sat upon it.  His appearance was like lightning and his clothing was white as snow.  The guards were shaken with fear of him and became like dead men.  Then the angel said to the women in reply, "Do not be afraid!  I know that you are seeking Jesus the crucified.  He is not here, for he has been raised just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay (Matthew 28:1-6).  

Then they went away quickly from the tomb, fearful yet overjoyed, and ran to announce this to his disciples.  And behold, Jesus met them on their way and greeted them. They approached, embraced his feet, and did him homage.  Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid. Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me" (Matthew 28:10).  The brothers were all stunned and incredulous “for they did not yet understand the Scripture that He had to rise from the dead” (John 20:9) as Our Lord told them.
       Resurexit sicut dixit!  He is risen as He truly said!  Alleluia!  Thus we relive this great day in salvation history as well as world history.  Jesus Christ said that He would rise from the dead on the third day of being crucified and He did…….no other person in world history can make that claim.  This gave much greater credibility to His teaching.   The biblical accounts are considered to be valid historical documents.  

        Our Lord went through an arduous passion like no one ever endured since medically it is doubtful anyone else would have survived it for as long as He did……all to make reparation for countless sins.  The Son of God made the ultimate sacrifice of Himself for each one of us…….such was His infinite love for you and me.  No sacrifice of reparation could satisfy the Father; only His dearly beloved Son could.

At His death, Jesus descended into the netherworld of Abraham, the prophets, and their followers…….waiting centuries for the day of redemption.  Christ indeed made reparation for the great sin of Adam and Eve as well as all of the sins of the world past, present, and future.

      Looking into the Empty Tomb in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.

At His Resurrection the gates of Heaven were opened to all of mankind who remain faithful.  That includes you and me.  Jesus won for us the victory over evil and death.  Therefore Easter is a day of such joy for us all.  Because Jesus rose from the dead, so can we rise from the dead to new life in Heaven……"No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him"  (1Corinthians 2:9).  

This was really the second Passover.  The holy people and prophets of the Old Testament were waiting up to 4000 years to be freed from the bondage of original sin and pass over into Heaven.  We are freed from the slavery of sin and death and journey through the desert of life and pass over into Heaven as long as we remain faithful to Christ and His Church.  

Sooner or later each one of us will have to undergo a passion of our own because there is no resurrection without the passion.  Thus there is meaning to suffering and accepted with faith and trust will make us saints.

           The Dormition of Mary Church next to the Upper Room on Mt. Zion in Jerusalem.
      The site of the tomb of David is next to the church.  According to tradition, Mary

                did not die, but fell into a deep sleep and was taken up into Heaven (Her Assumption). 

For fear of the Jews, the apostles were cooped up in the Cenacle or Upper Room shown below.  In his glorified body Jesus was able to go through the walls and appear to His apostles.   As an eye witness, St. John describes it beautifully in his own words:

       On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, "Peace be with you."   When he had said this, he showed them His hands and His side.  The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.  (Jesus) said to them again, "Peace be with you.  As the Father has sent me, so I send you."  And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the holy Spirit.  Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained" (John 20:19-23).  

  Thus Jesus Christ instituted the sacrament of Reconciliation.  We confess to a priest (as persona Christi or other Christ) so that he can judge whether to forgive or retain sins and give us wise counsel.

The Cenacle or Upper Room, the site of the Last Supper and where Christ appeared to the apostles after His Resurrection.

      The absent St. Thomas did not believe that Jesus appeared to them.  Several days later our Lord appeared again and St. Thomas exclaimed: “My Lord and my God!”  Jesus answered and said to him, "Have you come to believe because you have seen me?   Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed."  Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of (his) disciples that are not written in this book.  But these are written that you may (come to) believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in His name (John 20:28-32).

The Lake of Galilee where several apostles fished for a living.

        Fishers of Men. On Lake Galilee, pictured above, Peter and several apostles were fishing.  When it was already dawn, Jesus was standing on the shore; but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.  Jesus said to them, "Children, have you caught anything to eat?" They answered him, "No."  So he said to them, "Cast the net over the right side of the boat and you will find something." So they cast it, and were not able to pull it in because of the number of fish (John 21:4-6).  They caught 153 fish which was the number of known countries at the time.  They had breakfast together with our Lord, who also ate, showing that He could not be a spirit.  Spirits don’t eat.

A Polish nun meditates during our boat trip on the Lake of Galilee on some of the events on  and along these waters.

Then Jesus asked Peter an important question that He implicitly asks us.  He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" Peter was distressed that he had said to him a third time, "Do you love me?" and he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you." (Jesus) said to him, "Feed my sheep” (John 21:17).  Here our Lord made it clear that Peter had a great mission as the leader of the Church, the first Pope and principal shepherd to nurture and spread the faith.  Today Pope Francis, the 265th successor of Peter, has the same mission.


See Blog #84 Meditations For the Rosary IV: The Glorious Mysteries


On the Lake of Galilee and a boat ride.

A School of Fine Arts on the Lake of Galilee.

Jaga and Paul Sebastian on the Mediterranean Sea near Haifa, Israel. 

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