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If Christ appeared to the Jews after His resurrection, the Jewish nation would be Catholic today.  But then that is not God's way.  The glorified Christ will only show Himself to those with perfect faith, to those destined to be saved.  

The empty tomb was the final test of faith.  Three sets of people saw the empty tomb and each had a a different reaction.  The guards saw the empty tomb and went about saying that the disciples stole the body of Christ.  Secondly, Peter and John saw the empty tomb and they believed that Christ rose from the dead.  Thirdly, Mary Magdalene also saw the empty tomb and, with a humble but inexperienced faith, thought Christ was dead.  Thus, Christ, appearing as a gardener, rebuked her, "Do not touch Me."  Since you have not touched Me with a perfect faith, do not touch Me with your hands.  I told you I would resurrect.  Because of your slip of memory, I forbid you to touch Me. 

But Mary Magdalene later on made up for her lapsus memoriae and became worthy to behold the resurrected Christ.  

The empty tomb propelled Mary and the apostles to perfect faith.  The same empty tomb drove the Sanhedrin deeper into error: "The disciples stole His body."  Their lie made the truth more conspicuous in that the lie was highly incredible.  How can they steal; these poor, unlearned and cowardly group? There was a seal and there were soldiers.  How can they who could not stand by Him while He was alive stand by Him now that He is dead?

Having  Christ crucified was a big mistake.  To undo their first error, the Sanhedrin went to Pilate and asked for  guards.  This error is worse than the first because the guards became witnesses to the opening of the tomb.  Their lie would have been more credible if there were no guards.  Endeavors to obscure the truth further occasioned it to appear more clear.

By saying, "They stole the body," they confessed that the tomb was empty.  And, since the fact that the disciples stole the body was not credible because of the presence of the guards, their very statement proves the resurrection. 

St. Maximus of Turin, Sermon 39 A







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