HOW HE ROSE FROM THE DEAD.
The Saturday night passed, and it was break of day. The soul of the dead returned from the Limbo of the Fathers, Abraham's bosom, and entered into the body of the dead Christ. " Free among the dead " he rose from that stone shelf. He folded up the great winding-sheet and the grave-clothes and laid them aside as they were found later in the morning.
Christ is now glorified. His body is immortal. Death or suffering have no more dominion over him. It is a glorious body. It has become as near like a spirit as it is in the power of God to make it, while retaining the essence of matter, he passes through the solid rock, like light through clearest crystal.
An earthquake shook the ground as the Lord passed through the solid rock, as the prophet foretold. " The earth trembled and was still, when God arose in judgement to save the meek of the earth." (Psalm lxxv. 9, 10. 2)
The six guards standing before the door of the tomb fell flat upon the ground. Astonishment seized the soldiers. " They saw and they wondered, they were troubled, they were moved, trembling took hold of them." (Psalm xlvii. 6, 7.) The whole band of soldiers was seized with fright as they saw the glorified body of Christ, shining with the splendors of the transfiguration, floating over them. An Angel came from heaven, approached the entrance to the tomb, touched the great stone and rolled it from the door.
Soon after the holy women in the Cenacle rose to prepare for the embalming of the Lord, according to the words of the prophet: " Rise up, ye rich women, arid hear my voice; ye confident daughters give ear to my speech." (Isaias xxxii 9.) The Lord appeared first to his Mother, and she was trans ported with joy when she saw him. For it was foretold that he would comfort her. " As one whom the mother caresseth, so will I comfort you, and you shall be comforted in Jerusalem. You shall see and your heart shall rejoice, and your bones shall flourish like an herb; and the hand of the Lord shall be known to his servants, and he shall be angry with his enemies. For behold the Lord shall come with fire, and his chariots are like a whirlwind." (Isaias Ixvi. 13-15.)
It is said an Angel appeared to her and told her to come.
Hastily wrapping a cloak round her shoulders, she went out and near Nicodemus' house on the wall first she saw him.
Before the dawn of day Mary Magdalen, Cleophas* daughter Mary, Joanna, Chusa, Salome and some of the other women had left the Cenacle, and went down to the tomb. The great city gates were closed but they had.no difficulty in passing out the little door near Nicodemus' house. They carried bundles of spices, balms and ointments to anoint the body of the Lord. It was while they were on the way to the tomb that the Lord appeared to his Mother.
One account says the Virgin Mother, relieved from the long tension of sorrow, felt filled with strength when she knew her Son was alive, and she first went to Caiphas' house near by, where his Passion began. Then she went along down the main Sion Street over which he passed to Pilate's palace, and from there she walked along the way over which he had carried his cross, making as it were the Stations of the Cross. She was drawing near to Calvary, when suddenly again appeared to her the Saviour with an Angel on each side of him, surrounded by thou sands of the souls of the dead Saints he had redeemed.
The sacred humanity of the Divine Son was brilliant as the sun. He told his Mother all that he had done in Limbo. With his cortege of Angels and redeemed souls, the Lord passed into the Holy City and together with the Angels went over the places where he had suffered. The Virgin Mother remained at Calvary meditating on the mystery of the vision. (Cath, Emmerich, pp. 330, 331,)
As the women who knew not that he had risen went on their way to the sepulcher, they asked each other how they would roll away the great stone. They had not thought of that while they were preparing the ointments, herbs and flowers to spread over the body after they had appointed it. They meditated on the words of the Holy Spirit relating to the Virgin Mother, to her Son, to the love between them, and to the final preparation of his body. "My sister, my spouse, is a garden inclosed, a fountain sealed up. Spikenard and saffron, sweet cane and cinnamon . . . the fountains of gardens, the well of living waters . . Arise, O north wind ; and come, O south wind, blow through my garden and let the aromatic spices thereof flow. Let my beloved come into his garden ... I am come into my garden, O my sister, my spouse, I have gathered my myrrh with my aromatic spices." (Cant, of Cant, iv. 12, 16.)
Salome was wealthy. She brought more than the others. She was a relative of St. Joseph, who had been dead for many years. She lived in Jerusalem. Mary Magdalen had her own portion of her father's property in Magdala down by the shores of the lake of Galilee. The other women brought according to their means. When they came to the tomb they saw the guards were lying prostrate on the ground. They could see them in the dim twilight, showing how great had been their fright and terror. The great stone was rolled aside. When the women saw the guards lying on the ground they became frightened and ran away to the east towards Calvary.
Mary Magdalen was more courageous. With Salome she passed through the little gate, entered the garden, walked south and drew near the tomb. Both women passed by the prostrate soldiers and entered the tomb.
The linen cloths, with which the body had been wrapped, were folded and with the great winding-sheet, lay on the rock shelf where the body had lain. They saw the tomb was empty. A heavenly light filled the whole sepulcher, an Angel sat at the right side. The women became very excited, for they thought some one had stolen away the body.
" And going in they found not the body of the Lord Jesus. And it came to pass while they were astonished in mind at this, behold, two men stood by them in shining apparel. And they were afraid, and bowed down their countenance towards the ground. They said to them: Why seek you the living among the dead ? He is not here, but is risen. Remember how he spoke to you when he was yet in Galilee, saying: * The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful man, and 'be crucified, and the third day rise again.' And they remembered his words. And going back from the sepulcher, they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest.