Sunday, June 1, 2014

The Empty Tomb, the Ark of the Covenant, and the Tabernacle

A. The Empty Tomb and the Ark of the Covenant

In the Book of John, we read the following account of the Resurrection of Christ:
But Mary stayed outside the tomb weeping.f And as she wept, she bent over into the tomb 12 and saw two angels in white sitting there, one at the head and one at the feet where the body of Jesus had been. 13 And they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken my Lord, and I don’t know where they laid him.” 14 When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus there, but did not know it was Jesus.g (Jn 20:11-14)
Notice the following images: Two angels--one at the head and one at the feet of where the body of Jesus had been.  This image reminds us of the Ark of the Covenant in the Old Testament:
In the ark you are to put the covenant which I will give you. 17 You shall then make a cover* of pure gold, two and a half cubits long, and one and a half cubits wide. 18 Make two cherubim* of beaten gold for the two ends of the cover; 19 make one cherub at one end, and the other at the other end, of one piece with the cover, at each end. 20 The cherubim shall have their wings spread out above, sheltering the cover with them; they shall face each other, with their faces looking toward the cover. 21 This cover you shall then place on top of the ark. In the ark itself you are to put the covenant which I will give you. 22 There I will meet you and there, from above the cover, between the two cherubim on the ark of the covenant, I will tell you all that I command you regarding the Israelites. (Ex 25:16-22)
Let us, therefore, meditate on the relationship between Jesus and the the Ark of the Covenant.

B. Manna and the Ten Commandments

What is inside the Ark of the Covenant? The Covenant, of course.  That's the Ten Commandments--the very words of God himself in Mount Sinai. But Jesus is the Word of God Who Became Flesh.  As stated in the Prologue of the Gospel of John:
1 In the beginning* was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.... And the Word became flesh* and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth.k (Jn 1:1-14)
Jesus also said:
Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own. The Father who dwells in me is doing his works. (Jn 14:10)
What else can we find in the Ark of the Covenant? The Manna:
The house of Israel named this food manna.e It was like coriander seed,* white, and it tasted like wafers made with honey. 32 Moses said, “This is what the LORD has commanded. Keep a full omer of it for your future generations, so that they may see the food I gave you to eat in the wilderness when I brought you out of the land of Egypt.” 33 Moses then told Aaron, “Take a jar* and put a full omer of manna in it. Then place it before the LORD to keep it for your future generations.” 34 As the LORD had commanded Moses, Aaron placed it in front of the covenant* to keep it. (Ex 16:31-34)
But Jesus is the Real Manna, the True Bread from Heaven:
So Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave the bread from heaven; my Father gives you the true bread from heaven.o 33 For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 34 p So they said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” 35 * Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst. (Jn 6:32-35)
After His Resurrection, manifested Himself to his disciples in the breaking of the bread, as the story of the road to Emmaus tells us:
And it happened that, while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. 31 With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight. (Lk 24:30-31)
What is left is the bread, but it already ceased to be bread, though it appears and tastes like bread: the bread has become the Bread of Life, Jesus Christ Himself.  This is the Dogma of the Transubstantiation:
1376 The Council of Trent summarizes the Catholic faith by declaring: "Because Christ our Redeemer said that it was truly his body that he was offering under the species of bread, it has always been the conviction of the Church of God, and this holy Council now declares again, that by the consecration of the bread and wine there takes place a change of the whole substance of the bread into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord and of the whole substance of the wine into the substance of his blood. This change the holy Catholic Church has fittingly and properly called transubstantiation."2 (Catechism of the Catholic Church, Art. 1376)

C. Tabernacle and the Holy Eucharist

During Holy Communion, the priest removes the consecrated hosts from the Tabernacle, so that the Tabernacle becomes empty just like the Empty Tomb.  And like Mary Magdalene, we ask where Christ is:
And [the angels] said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken my Lord, and I don’t know where they laid him.” 14 When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus there, but did not know it was Jesus.g 15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?”h She thought it was the gardener and said to him, “Sir, if you carried him away, tell me where you laid him, and I will take him.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni,”* which means Teacher. (Jn 20:13-16)
Christ is present in the Holy Eucharist, though we may not recognize Him.  This requires Faith.  As St. Aquinas wrote in Tantum Ergo: ""
Præstet fides supplementum sensuum defectui. [Let faith provide a supplement for the failure of the senses.]
The Sacred Host is the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ.  This thought should always be present in our minds when we receive Holy Communion.  The priest carefully purifies his hands before handling the Sacred Host.  What did our hands touch after we took a bath and readied ourselves for mass? We pick our clothes, we tie our shoes, we shook hands, we scratch our back, we pick our nose--many things.  Are our hands fit to touch the Sacred Host?  Even if there is an indult for receiving Christ with our hands during Communion, the safest thing to do is to receive communion with our tongue, and not with our hands.  As Christ told Mary Magdalene:
Stop holding on to me,* for I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God. (Jn 20:17)
Each particle of the consecrated host is Christ, whole and entire, with a property of self-similarity like a fractal.  You wouldn't want to waste each particle of the host.  Even the priests are careful not to waste each particle: notice how they gathers all the crumbs and mixes them all into the left over wine with water, and drinks them all.  All those little crumbs are significant in another way: when Jesus fed the multitude, the leftovers were 12 wicker baskets full.  And if all the crumbs are gathered from the leftover particles during each mass for one day for one billion Catholics, how many wicker baskets can these crumbs fill?

A Woman Called Mary (Life and Times in the New Testament Series)
A Woman Called Mary (Life and Times in the New Testament Series)
The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus
The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus
The Ark of the Covenant Grande Sculptural Box [Kitchen]
The Ark of the Covenant Grande Sculptural Box [Kitchen]
The Hidden Manna: A Theology of the Eucharist
The Hidden Manna: A Theology of the Eucharist
The Stranger on the Road to Emmaus
The Stranger on the Road to Emmaus
The Catechism of the Council of Trent
The Catechism of the Council of Trent
Complete Kit For The Tabernacle DVD-based Bible Study
Complete Kit For The Tabernacle DVD-based Bible Study
Transubstantiation: Webster's Timeline History, 1062 - 2005
Transubstantiation: Webster's Timeline History, 1062 - 2005
The Fractal Geometry of Nature
The Fractal Geometry of Nature