“This is my body given for you”
(Based on John 20:1-18)
“Where’s the body?” As though to emphasize the sheer physicality and centrality of Jesus’ resurrection, upon which the truth of the Christian faith is founded, St. John recapitulates this question three times in his Easter account (See John 20:2, 13, 15). It was just before dawn. A Sunday morning still misted by darkness … when outside the gates of Jerusalem, a heartbroken disciple of Jesus, named Mary Magdalene, entered a grave riddled garden in order to anoint Jesus’ crucified body with spices-n-oil, as was Jewish custom. But soon she’d be in for a surprise of a lifetime, and beyond …
Even though it was still dark, Mary could tell some-body had moved the large stone away from the front of Jesus’ tomb. Had Jesus body been stolen or taken away?… His body was all she had left to hold onto and now it too was gone. “So Mary ran, and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they’ve laid [his body]’” (John 20:2). A while later, Mary returns to Jesus’ tomb and encounters “two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain” (John 20:12). They are as compassionate as can be, asking: “Woman why are you weeping?” But, by this point, Mary must have been thinking: “Can’t SOME-BODY do something?”
And then, some-body does. The One whom Mary thinks is a gardener now asks the personal, incarnational, body-question: “For whom are you looking?” And then, this One who created the world with but a word, now brings salvation to Mary, by simply calling her name. Jesus says to her in Hebrew: ‘Mariam!’ And immediately recognizing the voice of her teacher (cf. John 10:3-4), Mary exclaims: ‘Rabboni!” In six short syllables, “Ma-ri-am” and “Rab-bo-ni” … and in just about that many seconds … the world became a different place, for Mary, for you, and for all people. Death, once final, has met its match and is un-done. There is a reality – SOME-BODY – more final than death. “This is my body,” says Jesus, “given for you” (I Corinthians 11:24).
This coming Easter Sunday, we’ll give special focus to the incarnational, fleshy sensibilities of Jesus’ resurrection; especially for our time that has sought to rationalize it as a myth, or psychologize it as a projection of guilt consciousness, or deconstruct it as merely a metaphor. The 20th century American poet, John Updike offers us a marvelous entrée in his “Seven Stanzas At Easter.” And so, in the meantime, let me ask you: “Where in the world is Christ’s body today? And how is it ‘at hand’ … or connect, making a difference, for you?”
The Word is out! And yes, it’s for you, always …!
“Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus
were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death,
so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk
in newness of life. For if we have been united with [Christ] in a death like his, we shall
certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.” (Romans 6:3-5; RSV)