‘Literal flesh-and-blood’ resurrection is the heart of my faith!
Appearance of Jesus to Mary Magdalene after resurrection, Alexander Ivanov, 1835
Is it necessary to believe in the literal flesh-and-blood resurrection of Jesus? Believing is left to the whims and fancies of ordinary individuals who are prone to human weakness differently, but proving like 2+2=4 is demanded by disciplined intellectuals who will knuckle down only to strict logic and reason, which is herculean!
So this one tantalizing aspect of the love-life of Jesus is taken up here for your reflection to prove Jesus was also quite a frail human like any one – apart from his spiritual super human or super imposed image as divine questioned during his life time and now – caught in passionate love for the beloved as it happens between two adults.
All’s well in love and war!
Just analyze what is happening here: Mary blinded by the thought of her beloved, asks the person he meets thinking to be a guard: ”Where have you taken the body of my dear Jesus?” And pat comes the tender loving call she used to hear: “Mary!” and human love personified instantly responds doubly – in word and deed — with the leap called “Rabboni” to embrace, arrested with equal tender speed: “Touch me not!” as I have not ascended to my Father and yours!
What else can one look back and reconstruct what and how their private meetings could have been. There could not have been any ban on touching, embracing and kissing in a show of affection, as lovers do today in public without any inhibition. That is what the gestures of both Mary and Jesus in the picture above, graphically portrays!
Son of Man or God?
One ulterior question here is: Was Jesus only the ‘SON OF MAN’ repeated 85 times in the Gospels in contrast to Son of God — in the sense all are children of God – just 38 times in the Gospels? If Son of God no human can imitate him. Jesus is presented to us on equal footing – “we are all brothers only” — nay washing the feet of betrayer Judas, and thrice denier ‘Peter’ who finally had to give in!
What is Jesus for you? God, Man or Friend par excellence? For me he is Friend in Need and Deed, that hound of heaven from whose jaws I am caught as in vice-like grip and can’t escape, thanks more to his merciful grip than my rebellious revolt to get free. For Mary Magdaline, he was more than a friend, a lover unlike Pope John 23rd who was described as more than a friend and less than a lover of the Polish man’s wife!
Lazarus also died!
As for Mary she had much more to digest about her relationship to Jesus. Her brother Lazarus also had died. “The one whom you love is dying” she had sent message to Jesus without getting a reply. Between lovers, it is enough, one is informed of the need for help. The loved one will be there to help. And sure Jesus came though three days after death, still brought him back to life.
Lazarus lived a second human life and died a second death. Jesus did not. Or did he? As stories about him still circulate about coming to Kashmir and dying there at a grand old age? There will not be any end to stories about Jesus’ crucifixion, death and resurrection either.
Bask in Mary-Jesus Love!
We may leave that as mystery incomprehensible, while we are all left free to bask in the sunshine of Mary leaping to embrace Jesus in loving affection, human or divine, God alone knows, if there is a God! james kottoor, editor, CCV.
Read below article on Jesus’ Resurrection!
There has been a great deal of discussion about a provocative Easter Sunday column by Nicholas Kristof in The New York Times, in which he interviewed my friend, Serene Jones, the president of Union Theological Seminary and a distinguished professor of theology.
At the start of the interview, Mr. Kristof asks Professor Jones several questions about the resurrection. Is it necessary to believe in a “literal flesh-and-blood resurrection”? In response, she focuses on the Gospel accounts of the empty tomb. But Mr. Kristof pushes her on the question: “Isn’t a Christianity without a physical resurrection less powerful and awesome?”
Her answer, which raised a few hackles online, should be quoted in full:For me, the message of Easter is that love is stronger than life or death. That’s a much more awesome claim than that they put Jesus in the tomb and three days later he wasn’t there. For Christians for whom the physical resurrection becomes a sort of obsession, that seems to me to be a pretty wobbly faith. What if tomorrow someone found the body of Jesus still in the tomb? Would that then mean that Christianity was a lie? No, faith is stronger than that.
Let me offer my own perspective on this.
I believe that Jesus Christ rose from the dead on the first Easter Sunday. And I do not see that as any sort of parable or metaphor. This is, frankly, the very heart of my faith. Also, I do not believe that we can or should reduce the great mystery of the resurrection to an experience that occurred within the community. This is what some contemporary theologians have posited: that Christ “rose” within the community.
Theological approaches differ, but, in essence, some theologians offer the story of how, as the disciples came to reflect on the life and death of Jesus Christ, he became “present” to them in a new way, through the Spirit. This, in turn, empowered them to proclaim the good news of his Gospel. Some theologians offer this as a more credible or contemporary way of understanding the “resurrection.”
But there is a problem with this idea of the resurrection as the after-effects of a “shared memory.” Certainly, after the resurrection and the ascension the disciples would have “remembered” Jesus, and certainly they may have had powerful Spirit-filled experiences as they did so, often as they gathered in community.
But, to my mind, only something as vivid, dramatic and, in a word, real as the multiple appearances by the risen Christ could have moved the disciples from abject fear (cowering behind closed doors) to being willing to give their lives for Jesus. Nothing else can credibly account for the transformation of terrified disciples into willing martyrs.
Moreover, for the disciples to have somehow found a body in the tomb would indeed mean that Jesus did not rise from the dead, which would negate the message of Easter. The tomb, as the Easter narratives recount, was empty—something that initially filled the disciples with fear and confusion.
But what did Jesus’ “glorified body” (the term many theologians use today) look like?The glorified body is something no one had encountered before—or has since. That is much harder to explain, and perhaps this is some of what Professor Jones was driving at. In some Gospel accounts, the physicality of the risen Christ is emphasized (“I am not a ghost,” he says in one passage).
In others, he seems ghostly (for example, his sudden appearance in a room where the doors are locked). Likewise, in some Gospel narratives, the risen Christ is recognizable (e.g., the Breakfast by the Sea and the appearances in the Upper Room). In others, the disciples find it hard, almost impossible, to recognize him (e.g., Emmaus).
To me, this indicates the radical newness, the complete novelty, the unrepeatable quality, of what the disciples were experiencing. The glorified body is something no one had encountered before—or has since. (To anticipate the obvious objection: Lazarus was raised from the dead but would later die. He was raised by Jesus in his still all-too-mortal body.)
So it is not surprising that the disciples could not comprehend the experience of the Risen One. Likewise, decades later, the Gospel writers naturally struggle to describe it. It looked like a ghost, but it didn’t. It was easy to recognize him, but it wasn’t. But all the post-resurrection appearances agree on one thing: It was Jesus.
In today’s Gospel, Mary Magdalene recognizes Jesus calling her name because she knew who it was already. The risen Christ is identifiable with Jesus of Nazareth. “He is risen,” they say— not “A new person is risen.” He is Jesus.For me, the best summary of this idea comes from Stanley Marrow, S.J. In his commentary on the Gospel of John (Paulist Press), he links Jesus of Nazareth with the risen Christ. I return to this passage often:
The Risen Lord had to be recognizably and identifiably Jesus of Nazareth, the man whom the disciples knew and followed, whom they saw and heard, with whom they ate and because of whom they now cowered behind closed doors. For him to have risen as any other than the Jesus of Nazareth that they knew would void the resurrection of all its meaning. The one they had confessed as their risen Lord is the same Jesus of Nazareth that they had known and followed.
Showing them ‘his hands and his side,’ which bore the marks of the crucifixion and the pierce of the lance, was not a theatrical gesture, but the necessary credentials of the identity of the risen Lord, who stood before them, with the crucified Jesus of Nazareth whom they knew. He is, in a word, risen. (The Rev. James Martin, S.J., is a Jesuit priest, author and editor at large at America)