By Emily Cavins
Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread. As they were saying this, Jesus himself stood among them. But they were startled and frightened, and supposed that they saw a spirit. And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do questionings rise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself; handle me, and see; for a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see that I have.” And while they still disbelieved for joy, and wondered, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate before them. Then he said to them, “These are my words which I spoke to you, while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and the psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. (Luke 25: 35-48)
Sometimes we just can’t help getting caught up in our culture’s obsession with the body. To look young, fit and attractive pervades so many aspects of our world. Yet the one body that matters the most can be overlooked and forgotten: The Body of Christ.
On the day of Christ’s bodily resurrection, he showed his followers his body and ate broiled fish so they could witness his physical presence. Then Jesus taught them about his Passion and Resurrection, which would bring forgiveness to those who repent. Jesus’ followers who witnessed his resurrected body were the ones to preach the Good News to all nations.
This is our commission as well. Each time we partake in communion at Mass, we are witnesses to his resurrection. We see his body, not only in the bread but in those around us that make up the Body of Christ, the Church. He becomes known to us in the breaking of the bread.
Recently I met a man who gives presentations on the Shroud of Turin (which I think should be renamed as the Shroud of Jesus.) The presenter was explaining several recent scientific tests that have been done on the cloth. The accumulation of data on the Shroud is truly amazing. There on the cloth is the image of Jesus, transferred to the fabric at the moment of his glorious resurrection. The image on the Shroud is the best body image anyone could hope to see on this earth: the image of our Savior, given up for us.
In the Holy Land at the Notre Dame Center in Jerusalem is a wonderful exhibit on the Shroud of Turin. One thing in the exhibit that is extremely riveting is a 3-D form of a beaten man reproduced from the image. This visual helps us see with our own eyes the body of Christ that was laid in the tomb on Good Friday: that beautiful body that bore every sin in the whole word. Here we can envision true beauty, beauty at its most divine, infused with love and sacrifice.
We can also be witnesses to the empty tomb with a visit to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. This most holy site to all of Christendom is the exact place of the crucifixion and resurrection. We can look in the empty tomb like Mary, Peter and John and see that “He is Risen just as he said!” We are witnesses to the resurrection even to this day. We have seen Him and continue to see Him and will see Him in His glorious return.
Next time you are staring in the mirror, remember the one body that truly matters, the Body of Christ, broken for you.
About the Author:
Emily Cavins received her BA in Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology from the University of Minnesota and has participated in several excavations in Israel. She is a tour leader of annual pilgrimages to Israel and other Bible related destinations with husband Jeff Cavins. In her most recent work, A Pilgrim’s Guide to the Holy Sepulchre and Golgotha in Jerusalem, Emily has written a guide to aid pilgrims in unraveling the mystery of the current Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which at first visit seems to be a confusing mixture of structures and rooms unlike any church ever visited. This pilgrim’s guide uses illustrations to show each phase of the Tomb of Christ and Golgotha from the First Century through the Crusader Era. The Great Adventure Storybook: A Walk through the Catholic Bible introduces children and educators to salvation history and makes a vital link between the Bible, Mass and the Catholic Faith. You can see more of Emily on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/EmilyToblerCavins/ or at Catholic Family Night: www.catholicfamilynight.com
Beautiful meditation on His Body given for us, Emily! Gives new and refreshing meaning to anyone who uses a mirror!
Emily, I loved this piece and the fact that I was blessed to visit the museum on our free day to see the artifacts and the 3D piece. It was quite moving to have this experience. Also, thank you for all you do in your ministry.
The experience of the Mass readings during Lent and Easter have been profound – I can see, smell, taste them after our trip to the Holy Land
I may have already shared this article that references the Shroud of Turin:
Two Eucharistic Miracles 1,300 years apart show same blood type and DNA by Ryan Fitzgerald
After scientific investigation, a eucharistic miracle in Poland was recently confirmed as authentic by the local bishop of the area. Initially, the Host had fallen on the ground, so it was placed in water, as is customarily done in such cases. Not long afterward, the Eucharist began turning red, as if bloody.
Tests subsequently done on the subject indicated it came from human tissue “most similar to the heart muscle … as it appears under the strains of agony.”
The case is similar to one that occurred in Buenos Aires, Argentina years ago. In 1996, when then-Bishop Jorge Bergoglio (now Pope Francis) was an auxiliary bishop there under Cdl. Antonio Quarracino. A consecrated Host was found on the ground and soon placed in a glass of water to dissolve. Days later, the Eucharist wasn’t dissolved at all — it had turned into bloody Flesh.
Cardinal Quarracino and Bp. Bergoglio took a photograph of the bloody Host for the record, then stored it in a tabernacle to decompose. In 1999, three years later, that same bloody Flesh remained. That’s when Dr. Ricardo Castañón, a Bolivian neurophysiologist, was called in to have samples from the Host examined in a laboratory environment.
Doctor Castañón took it to the San Francisco Forensic Institute without telling anyone there what it was or where it came from. After testing, he was told the samples constituted heart muscle, specifically from the myocardium of the left ventricle. Further, the tests showed the blood was human, with human DNA, and of the rare AB-positive type — the same as found on the Shroud of Turin.
Following those results, the Host was taken to Dr. Frederick Zugibe, an esteemed cardiologist and forensic pathologist at Columbia University in New York. According to Dr. Castañón, Dr. Zugibe tested the samples he was given and said the person whose heart it came from must have been tortured. Further, Dr. Zugibe was reportedly amazed that when he studied the samples, they were pulsating like a living, beating heart.
When Dr. Castañón first came across the miracle in 1999, he was an atheist. Today, he’s a Catholic.
After that, the results of the tests were compared to samples from another eucharistic miracle that took place in Lanciano, Italy roughly 1,300 years ago. The Body and Blood from that miracle are still preserved at a church in the town. In 1970, they were examined scientifically and, like the Buenos Aires sample, found to be from a human heart with AB-positive blood.
The comparison indicated that the samples from both Buenos Aires and Lanciano must have come from the same man. They both had the exact same DNA.
Church leaders are always careful to test potential miracles and rule out natural causes. Last year, in Utah, a Host that had been dropped and kept in water appeared blood red after days. However, after a thorough investigation, the red substance turned out not to be blood but rather mold. So the Church isn’t quick to label every case like this miraculous. But sometimes, after healthy skepticism and cautious investigation, there’s no other conclusion that can be drawn.