Easter Week Meditation: Jesus and Mary Magdalene at the Resurrection, and the Conversion of the Jews
I think there is a profound solution to the mystery of the conversion of the Jews in several "three’s" Scriptures.
Jesus rose from the dead on the THIRD day, in accordance with the Scriptures. If there was not some significant meaning to THREE, why would the Creeds include it? In fact, it seems to imply apocalyptic significance to "three."
On the THIRD day, Christ rose from the dead
For THREE days and three nights, Jonah was in the belly of the whale
For THREE days and three nights, Joseph and Mary look for Jesus, and only in the third do they find Him in the Temple
THREE times Peter denies Jesus, and THREE times he is reconciled to Jesus ("Peter do you love me?")
THREE times Jesus prays in the agony of the garden to accept the will of God.
THREE times Jesus falls down carrying the cross.
THREE times, Mary Magdelene is spoken to, "Woman, why are you weeping?", "Woman, why are you weeping?", "Mary!"
And now, in modern Catholic theology, we know that there are THREE ways of the Saint in the process of his growth in holiness:
1. The Purgative Way
2. The Illuminative Way
3. The Unitive Way
Of course in each way, there are many times elements of the other ways (except the unitive, which doesn't have really too much purgation), but still, in a big picture, the common pattern of saints who walk the full way is a general PURGATIVE period, with some illumination and union within it, a general ILLUMINATIVE way, still with some purgation and unitive times, and then a general UNITIVE way, with a little illumination, but not much purgation.
It is interesting that St. Augustine, in an ancient document, On the Catechising of the Uninstructed, actually delineates five ages to the Old Law, two to the preeminent stages of Genesis (Flood, Abraham) and THREE to the Jewish covenant, and he says, in fact, that these three ages are "declared in the Gospel", hence perhaps why Christ's life fulfills this three in so many ways.
Here is the text and link reference: http://newadvent.org/fathers/1303.htm
Chapter 22.— Of the Six Ages of the World
39. Five ages of the world, accordingly, having been now completed (there has entered the sixth). Of these ages the first is from the beginning of the human race, that is, from Adam, who was the first man that was made, down to Noah, who constructed the ark at the time of the flood. Then the second extends from that period on to Abraham, who was called the father indeed of all nations which should follow the example of his faith, but who at the same time in the way of natural descent from his own flesh was the father of the destined people of the Jews; which people, previous to the entrance of the Gentiles into the Christian faith, was the one people among all the nations of all lands that worshipped the one true God: from which people also Christ the Saviour was decreed to come according to the flesh. For these turning-points of those two ages occupy an eminent place in the ancient books. On the other hand, those of the other three ages are also declared in the Gospel, where the descent of the Lord Jesus Christ according to the flesh is likewise mentioned. For the third age extends from Abraham on to David the king; the fourth from David on to that captivity whereby the people of God passed over into Babylonia; and the fifth from that transmigration down to the advent of our Lord Jesus Christ. With His coming the sixth age has entered on its process; so that now the spiritual grace, which in previous times was known to a few patriarchs and prophets, may be made manifest to all nations; to the intent that no man should worship God but freely, fondly desiring of Him not the visible rewards of His services and the happiness of this present life, but that eternal life alone in which he is to enjoy God Himself: in order that in this sixth age the mind of man may be renewed after the image of God, even as on the sixth day man was made after the image of God. For then, too, is the law fulfilled, when all that it has commanded is done, not in the strong desire for things temporal, but in the love of Him who has given the commandment.
Toward that end, can we not anticipate that since the just of the Old times walked according to grace, that this path was also experienced by many individual just saints of the Old times?
Consider it: Noah surely purged himself in his initial life to remain faithful to the natural law. And then, when God came to him and told him to build the ark, was it not the beginning of an illuminative way? And surely, Noah felt many desolations in that process, discouragement, like the saint in the illuminative way, at how the outside world mocked Him. By grace, although not fully realized, Noah obeyed God and persevered in building the ark. Surely, then, right before the Flood, it was truly a dark night of the soul. The whole world’s laughter must have peaked.
But as the waters came down and then devolved into the perishing of the world, the dark night of the soul was surely vanquished into the unitive way: Noah was vindicated, and he walked in unison with God fully, fully vindicated and resting in God’s grace.
Similarly, did not Abraham have a larger illuminative way in the all the ways God revealed Himself to Abraham, but it must have been a dark night when he was asked to slay Isaac. But in following through and entering unscathed, He surely reached the unitive way: He had been so obedient to the will of God that he was willing to do the unthinkable, and he survived the test.
Surely, Moses walked a progressive illumination, but with the parting of the Sea, the utter vindication of God, it must have been something of a profound union.
So also, I imagine a dark night of the soul for so many prophets who preached to the Jewish people, who scoffed, rebelled against, and killed them. But when the exile finally came, how much for those prophets alive would it have been a unitive way, the light of God’s revelation vindicated, even if painful.
But then, if the INDIVIDUAL saint of both Old and new Covenants walk the path of the saint, why not extrapolate to the PEOPLE of God HISTORICALLY? Is it merely a COINCIDENCE that the ages of the Jews are THREE, like the Gospel, and so much of Christ’s life, as St. Augustine testifies to above?
And we can see how the ages of the Jews AND of the Church, if we presume the most likely private revelation of a coming age of peace before the Great Apostasy, surely fulfill this path.
But then, let us work it out:
We can similarly argue that a major Society of Holy Ones under a Divine Covenant would likewise follow such spiritual stages relative to the sinful world around them, as follows.
For, just as the flesh rebels against the incoming spirit of the individual holy one and stings the saint who must resist it with pain, so the outside world feels threatened by the infusing Spirit of God’s Holy People and stings them by oppression and persecution. In the case of the Prefiguring Nation, it will be a single predominant nation [Egypt] that oppresses them. In the case of the Universal Society of Incarnate One, it will be the universal collection of nations around them [pagan Rome].
The People are delivered into the Illuminative way, the Prefiguring Ones, into their literal nation of bounty [Israel], the New People of Incarnate One, into a spiritual kingdom, spiritual freedom [Catholic Christendom].
Then the Holy Societies contemplate and grow in the understanding of the Divine Truths, the mysteries. The People of Prefiguring, through their Prophets, the People of New, through the development of doctrine by the Teaching Office of the Church amongst the nations.
Punctuated desolations assault the Holy Ones who ponder the mysteries, culminating in an age of near total unfaithfulness, the dark night of the soul. In the case of the Old, the majority of the Prefiguring nation resists the prophets, and in the case of the New, the majority of the general nations that had received the Divine Revelation reject the teaching office of Incarnate One’s True Society.
Then, the vindication: the consequences of sin and lack of faith fall upon the unfaithful. The faith is restored, the People and their surroundings walk in peace and love, the unitive way. In the Prefiguring case, the People are restored to their literal land, in the case of the New Covenant, the world is restored to the spiritual land, the Church.
Finally, just as the flesh stings the saint a final time, so the world around the holy ones stings them a final time, martyrdom (for the People of Old, OT Antichrist figure, Antiochus, Maccabees, for the People of New, Great Apostasy and Antichrist).
Then a new age is crossed, the Holy Incarnate One comes: after the Way of Old, the FIRST Coming, after the Way of the New, the SECOND Coming!
But if these things are true, we have a profound way to look upon some of these “THREE’s” Scriptures:
Christ fulfilled the apocalyptic THREE in His life in so many ways, but only a remnant of His People could accept it. But if, as Christ told the Jewish generation of His time that “no other sign except the sign of Jonas” shall be given, how WILL the Jews ever convert? I conjecture only one other way: that what Christ could not do in HIS Flesh (fulfilling the sign of Jonas in the THREE days, from the CREED) [what is LACKING in the sufferings of Christ], the CHURCH shall be able do by filling up the SAME THREEs in HER Journey! That is, if Christ filled up in HIS Flesh the stages of THREE of the Jewish People, and if the CHURCH, as we have seen, ALSO fills this up, then the Church is FULFILLING the same Jewish history that CHRIST did. Hence, if the Jews could not convert seeing the three’s in CHRIST, they WILL convert when they finally see the threes in the CHURCH.
Amen, it makes sense, and some of the above Scriptures referenced at the beginning lend strong evidence.
But now, before we probe this, simply conjecture what the Church shall be able to say to the Jews at the time of the Great Apostasy to enable their eyes to be opened!
For we know that around the time of the NT Antichrist and great apostasy, the Jews will finally begin to convert to the Gospel. But WHY? The Church does not yet know, but we can SPECULATE. I have what I believe to be a PROFOUND, COMMON SENSE speculation.
The Church shall say to the Jews, see, you were purged by Egypt, WE were purged by Pagan Rome.
You were delivered into a physical kingdom [the Holy Land], we were delivered into a SPIRITUAL kingdom, Catholic Christendom.
The prophets enlightened you, but time and again you resisted them, culminating in, as the Scriptures testify, a situation with little remedy. Similarly, we enlightened the Gentiles with the Development of Dogma, but there was constant resistance by the world around us (Arius, Islam, Great Schism, Protestantism, Enlightenment), and then came the situation of little remedy (the modern secular darkness of current times).
You were chastised by being carried away into a FOREIGN land [Babylon], the Gentiles were chastised by being carried away by the CONSEQUENCES of their sins in the Minor Chastisement.
You repented in the exile and returned to your place of Holiness, the Holy Land, and the GENTILES repented and were restored to the SPIRITUAL home land, the Church, the reunion of Christians, the age of peace!
And finally, YOU went through the final age of unfaithfulness, the apostasy to Hellenism, and were MARTYRED horribly under a single man who attempted to make you apostatize from the OLD law or be horribly tortured and killed, and WE, now, at the close of this age, are experiencing the FINAL age of unfaithfulness, the GREAT apostasy, and a single man is forcing us to apostatize from the NEW law or be tortured and killed?
Do you not see, our elder brethren, that what has mattered in all this is the SPIRITUAL stages of renewal? And THAT is the Gospel, not abstaining from pork, or being literally circumsized . It is the INNER renewal that YOU passed through that matters before God!
And so, in seeing the ultimate déjà vu, the Jews convert!
Now for some Scriptures that lend profound support for the idea:
Firstly, there is the idea that Mary and Joseph, in the finding in the Temple, are a symbol of the Jewish People in the New Testament Dispensation. In that regard, just as they looked for Jesus for THREE days, so the Jews will be looking for the MESSIAH for three AGES! And only in the final stage do they find Him in the last place they would ever think: the NEW Temple of God, the Catholic Church! And what will they do before the Messiah they have looked for except probe Him in agony: “Lord, for three great ages we have sought you in sorrow! How could you do this to us?”
And Christ shall respond, “Did you not know that I must be in My Father’s House [the Catholic Church] and doing my Father’s BUSINESS [Redeeming the GENTILES while YOU, the Jews, were looking for Me!]”
Again, Mary Magdalene at the Resurrection. Progressively she recognizes Christ.
In the first question, “Woman, why are you weeping”, perhaps an image of the first of the three stages of NT history, she is crestfallen, hopeless. “The Messiah was supposed to be here and He is not here. I do not know WHERE He is.”
In a similar vein, we know that the Jews were looking very intently at that time for the Messiah. They had the prophecy of Daniel’s 70 weeks of years that would transpire from the going forth of the world to rebuild the temple unto Annointed One (see Daniel Chapter 9). They followed those Jewish years of 360 days. They knew Messiah was right around the corner. They also knew from Daniel that Messiah would come in the FOURTH big Pagan Kingdom, which was Rome (Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, Rome, see Daniel chapters 2 and 7).
The Messiah was SUPPOSED to have been there at that time, but He was not. Or so they thought, even as Mary Magdalene did not understand when Jesus was not at the tomb.
In the second stage, the second question, again, “Woman, why are you weepeing”, the Jews are still weeping that Messiah has not yet come. Yet, the man that stands before them, who IS the Messiah, yet they recognize Him not, nevertheless sheds a light of hope to them. Perhaps this man, who is perhaps the GARDENER, can HELP us find the Messiah. Hence, “Sir, if you know where the Messiah is, please show me.” In a similar vein, modern Judaism still does not recognize the Christ before them as the Messiah. But their relationship with Christ is closer. Many no longer despise Christianity as in the first stage, but look upon Christianity, which they still regard as non-salvific, as at least perhaps something that has usefulness, and could perhaps lead the WAY to the Messiah.
Finally, in the third stage of our theory, as the NT Antichrist arises and attempts to torture and kill Gentile Christians if they do not renounce the NEW law, fulfilling OT Antichrist Antiochus, who tried to torture and kill JEWS if they would not renounce the OLD law, the Jews see the ultimate déjà vu, and accept the Gospel!
So, also, the third time that Christ speaks, He no longer says “Woman” [the first Bride of God?], but her NAME, “Mary!” And her response, appropriately noted in the Gospels, is Hebrew!!! “Rabboni!”, which means, TEACHER!
Profound, isn’t it? If it is true, what a wonderful treasure we have in Scripture: that literal events can point to deeper allegorical and spiritual realities!
God bless it!
Happy Easter Week, everyone, and may the eyes of our elder brothers and sisters come to cry out one day, as St. Mary Magdalene did, “RABBONI”!