Sunday Gospel Reflection September 1
In deep humility and aware of his nothingness and that perhaps he should not be in such holy company of Christ's successor, Andrew withdrew himself from the group and walked into the semi-darkness.
With a quick move of his hands, Peter readjusted the handkerchief scarf around his head, which helped keep his unruly hair out of his eyes, and he answered, “I have made up my mind. Come, this very hour we will open the grave.”
Turning to invite Andrew, and not seeing him, he called, “Where are you, Andrew?”
Andrew, all smiles when he heard Peter's voice, quickly returned to the group. It was not long before they were in the garden of Gethsemane kneeling beside the grave. With great reverence and silence they removed the earth from the top part of John's body. That which they saw stunned them – the handkerchief was not there. This scene before them was an actual miracle given to them through the kindness of John. No doubt he, too, wanted to give an added proof of the Resurrection and that nothing was impossible with the Messiah's help. John the Baptizer's face shone with a luster of pearl light, and a heavenly fragrance of roses issued from the open grave.
Bending low to venerate the brow of John, they could not help seeing the Messiah's chalice clasped in his folded hands. James could not hold back the tears as he quietly tore a strip of linen from his own toga and placed it over the face of John before they filled in the open grave. While they gently pushed the earth over his face, James said, “Peter, this is indeed a solemn occasion. Just think, this is the first tomb that has been opened by permission of the world's first most holy successor to Jesus. You have opened the way for all time as an example that we should venerate the dead. It is in keeping with the Master's wish; remember He prayed here. And we must not forget these heavenly fragrances! Peter, how can we thank you? May it please the Eternal Father to permit your successors to follow in your footsteps in this your way of honoring the dead.”
This was an excerpt from Cora Evans’ book, The Refugee from Heaven, selected as a reflection for the Sunday Gospel passage Luke 14:1; 7-14.