The women raised jesus christ!
was the tomb where they buried Jesus empty?
RACHEL Emisoras Latinas is nearing the end of its special coverage of the second coming of Jesus Christ to earth. Our microphones are still situated as we broadcast from an undisclosed site in Galilee, and with us, almost ready to leave, is Jesus Christ.
JESUS Peace be with, Rachel.
RACHEL I see that you’re in a very good mood this morning.
JESUS Yes, I’m happy. Very much so.
RACHEL And will you tell us the reason why?
JESUS Last night I was conversing with some people in a neighborhood near here. They have suffered terribly, but they were still laughing. They invited me to eat with them. They have a little group, you know? They’re struggling so that things will change on this earth. I felt that once again I was back there with Peter and John and Mary and …
RACHEL Were they Christians?
JESUS I don’t know. I didn’t ask them that. But they were very united. They all had one heart and one soul.
RACHEL I don’t want to spoil your good mood, but I have to take advantage of these last interviews to ask you a crucial question, a question that’s burning in the hearts of many of our listeners.
JESUS What’s it about?
RACHEL I’ve avoided asking it before, because … well, so that people wouldn’t say that we reporters are always prying into our guests’ personal matters.
JESUS Don’t beat around the bush, Rachel. What do you want to know?
RACHEL Well, you see, Jesus, all Christian faith and the whole Christian religion is based on … on your resurrection – on the fact that you rose on the third day. On Friday they crucified you, on Saturday nothing happened, but on Sunday you rose. Is this true, or is it something the gospels invented? Is it another metaphor, or ….? Why are you laughing?
JESUS I thought you were going to ask me about whether I had children or love affairs. Listen, Rachel, when what happened in Jerusalem was over, the people in the movement were discouraged and felt defeated. And with good reason. During that Passover feast, the time we went into the Temple and drove out the merchants, a lot of people were filled with hope, and I was more than anybody. We dreamt that God was now going to strike a blow for poor people. … But you know what happened. They struck down the shepherd, and the sheep scattered. It was a tough experience for everybody.
RACHEL You died and … what did you disciples do?
JESUS At first, according to what they tell me, they hid themselves. They closed themselves up in a house. Then the first ones to break out of the fear were the women. My mother, Mary Magdalene, Salome and other women wouldn’t resign themselves to my being dead. They began to give testimony, they announced that I was alive.
RACHEL But … were you alive? I mean, were you risen from the dead?
JESUS Yes, they raised me up.
RACHEL What do you mean, “they”?
JESUS The women.
RACHEL Excuse me, but I’m not understanding anything. Was the grave empty?
JESUS The heart was full, full of faith, full of hope.
RACHEL What happened that Sunday morning when Mary Magdalene went to the grave where they had placed your body?
JESUS What happened was that the Spirit of God filled her with strength and with joy – her and the other women also. And they encouraged the men, who were still acting like cowards. And all of them went out into the streets to tell the whole world that God’s Kingdom had arrived, that things can change and are going to change.
RACHEL Excuse me for insisting, but when they were announcing this, were you alive or not?
JESUS Of course, Rachel, I was alive in them.
RACHEL Now I’m the one who has to ask you not to beat around the bush. Did you rise from the dead? That is, did the grave open up, and did you get up and walk out of the grave, or fly out it – it doesn’t matter – but did your body get transformed into … into… ?
JESUS It is the spirit that rises, Rachel, not the flesh. The Spirit of God who gives us life is the one who makes us rise.
RACHEL Yes, but … your body?
JESUS The dust returns to the dust from which it came. And the spirit is reborn in community. And there it multiplies, like the grains of wheat.
RACHEL But then … you right now … what are you? … who are you?
JESUS I am Jesus, Rachel. But stop asking questions. Forget about me. I want to take you to meet that community I told you about.
RACHEL But am I seeing you with these eyes, or can it be that ….?
JESUS We see only with the heart, Rachel. On that Sunday the women saw me with their hearts. And now, come and meet these folks. That’s where I live!
RACHEL Well, okay, but … wait until I sign off from the program. For Emisoras Latinas, this is Rachel Perez.
ANNOUNCER Another God is Possible. Exclusive interviews with Jesus Christ in his second coming to Earth. A production of María and José Ignacio López Vigil, with the support of the Syd Forum and Christian Aid.
*More information about this polemical topic…*
Resurrection for the insurrection
It was only about a hundred years before Jesus’ time that the idea of a “resurrection” after death first appeared in Judaism, and it appeared in connection with the guerrilla rebellion of the seven Maccabee brothers and their mother, who were fighting against the Greek domination of Israel.
After the Maccabees fell in battle while fighting for their homeland, their mother and the mothers of the other Jews who died in the war claimed that their sons could not be dead, they could not die. They were convinced that God would raise them up again. (2 Maccabees 7). Starting from the time of that nationalist struggle of the Maccabees, the people of Israel began to believe that the martyrs for national liberation, the heroes of the resistance against foreign troops, could not remain dead forever. The second book of Maccabees does not speak of the resurrection of all people, but only of those who fell in combat, those who were struck down by the wicked in the prime of life. Thus the belief in resurrection arose in Israel out of a history of insurrection.
Jesus knew about the heroism of his fellow Palestinians, and in his own days, when the country was occupied and controlled militarily by the Roman empire, the Maccabees were admired by many people for their courageous resistance to imperial domination. The name Judas, so discredited in our own time, was very common in the time of Jesus, since it was the name of the great guerrilla leader Judas Maccabeus.
Jesus believed in the resurrection of the dead
In Jesus’ time there were not many people who believed in resurrection, as the mothers of the Maccabees had. The Sadducees, who were ardent defenders of the system, heaped ridicule on such a belief (Matthew 22,23-33). As influential, powerful people who were well off in this life, they did not believe either in the arrival of the messiah or in life after death. They were allied with Roman power and the economic benefits that came from such an alliance, and in their “theology” they defended the idea that people are rewarded by God on this earth, precisely in the form of money, status, and privilege. Their lack of “hope” was thus quite understandable.
There is no doubt that Jesus believed in resurrection. Feeling himself to be a prophet and being well aware of the violent deaths that many prophets had suffered in the history of Israel, he suspected that he also would suffer a violent death before his time. The image of the grain of wheat that has to die in order to be reborn in the plant is a metaphor that well expresses this faith of Jesus (John 12,24).
Resurrection or reincarnation?
The idea of life after death is present everywhere, in all peoples, cultures and religions. Whether people believe in resurrection or reincarnation or in some other form of life after death depends on the culture in which they have been brought up or have adopted. However the belief is expressed, what underlies the differences is the affirmation that death cannot be the end-point of our lives; it cannot be the final frontier, but must be the gateway to another form of life. Both resurrection and reincarnation share that same intuition.
Do not leave us, come back to life!
Cesar Valle’s poem “Masa” (1937) expresses beautifully what must have happened in Jerusalem after the death of Jesus: as the gospels relate, the women who were major actors in Jesus’ movement were the ones who brought about the resurrection as a fruit of their passionate, community-oriented faith.
At the end of the battle,
With the combatant already dead, a man came toward him
And said: “Don’t die, I love you so!”
But the body, oh!, kept dying.
Two more came near him and repeated:
”Don’t leave us! Courage! Return to life!”
But the body, oh!, kept dying.
Then came twenty, a hundred, a thousand, five hundred thousand,
Crying out: “So much love and not to be able to undo death!”
But the body, oh!, kept dying.
Millions of individuals surrounded him,
With a shared prayer: “Stay with us, brother!”
But the body, oh!, kept dying.
Then all the people on the earth
Surrounded him: they saw the body sad, then excited;
It slowly got up,
Embraced the first man and set off walking …
In the face of an unjust death
The idea of resurrection is a way of transforming death by giving it a meaning. When a death is premature, when it is unjust, the human mind searches for this meaning in order to make death more tolerable or acceptable. In many rural areas poor families who watch their little children die of hunger or sickness state that “God took them away so they would be little angels.” The pain of losing a child at an early age is made more bearable by such religious ideas.
In 2005 the religious sister Dorothy Stang, who fought for the lives of the poor farmers in Pará, Brazil, was killed by the big ranch owners. It was an unjust death. The day of her burial her friends were saying: “Today, Dorothy, we do not bury you, we sow you.” Something very similar must have happened with Jesus. And it was especially the women of Jesus’ movement who refused to be resigned to death; it was the women who with their words defied and broke through that limit that an unjust death meant for them. They were the ones who bore witness that he was still alive; they were the ones resolved to keep him alive.
A piece of resurrection
Catholic theologian Eugen Drewermann states the following: Resurrection cannot be an isolated event determined from without. Resurrection is the basic experience of one who believes in Jesus. How do I understand it? Resurrection is identical to confidence. Any person who in the face of death creates a space for life attains a small piece of resurrection. We all know that there are many ways of getting out of ourselves and committing ourselves to a fuller life. Every separation, every renunciation and every grief are, then, a smaller or a greater “dying”, and they are therefore a liberating maturity, a true resurrection.
She brought him to life and returns him to life
British writer Lesley Hazleton develops a brilliant and daring image in her book Mary: A Flesh-and-Blood Biography of the Virgin Mother. She has Mary enter her son’s grave accompanied by Mary Magdalene and the other women. Together they defy the horror and the pain of the death they have witnessed in helpless desperation. Then Mary approaches Jesus, firmly holds up his head and “returns him to life”. She is able to do it, for she is the mother: if she brought him to life, then she can return him to life.
Hazleton rounds out this image with a basic idea, one that is often ignored: Christianity began with these women, not with Paul or with Peter or with any of the long parade of saints and popes, but with these women in the tomb. They are the founding nucleus of Christianity, the last persons to see the body of Jesus and the first to see him risen.
And she explains why it happened that way: Maryam has to do this for her own good, as well as for her son. The alternative is to be reduced to pain and to the most horrible nightmares for the rest of her life. Maryam could not save her son. She could not offer herself in his place. But she could still act. She could break with the inertia, free herself from the passive role of just watching, and transform herself into an actor. “Don’t let this go by without anyone noticing,” she must have said to herself while moving into action. “Don’t be the woman who just suffers in silence. Above all, don’t remain quiet.” And afterwards, once she resolved what she would not do, she decided what she would do: “Make them hear your voice. Do something so that this sacrifice makes sense. Make it important for the world.”
Mary acted as did the mother of the Maccabees, as have all the mothers who keep alive their children who have died before their time.
Love resurrected Jesus
Hazleton reflects: When we read the Gospels as history instead of theology, we reduce the greatness of their metaphors and deprive ourselves of their supreme mystery, so that we are left with only a mediocre detective story. Naturally, resurrection in the literal sense is impossible, and the greatness of the idea resides precisely in that. But saying that it definitely did not happen is as senseless as saying that it did, because what is important about resurrection is not its literal meaning, but its metaphorical meaning – in other words, not its physical, but its metaphysical, dimension.
Resurrection has meaning only at another level of knowledge, a level that annuls the factual and reaches the deepest parts of the soul and the heart. Maryam, Mary Magdalene and the “many other women” knew that the essence of resurrection was not in the flesh, but in the spirit: the human spirit. “It was love that resurrected Jesus,” declared Ernest Renan, the great 19th-century historian of Christianity. And in truth it was. We bewail most the death of those we love most deeply. Whether it was the maternal love of Maryam, the sensual love of Mary Magdalene, or the loving faith of the other women, that was the force that transformed the pain into joy, the desperation into hope, the end into the beginning.