My Dear Sisters and Brothers! The Shroud of Turin reveals to us the extent of Jesus’ suffering. The scientists who have studies the Shroud have been able to identify nearly every single wound and scratch imprinted on the Body of our Saviour. I don’t want to focus on these studies today. Instead I want to focus on what still leaves the scientists dumbfounded: how the Body was removed from the Shroud and how the image was imprinted on this long piece of linen. It looks that the Body somehow rather evaporated.
Here St Peter comes to our help with his announcement made at Pentecost: ‘God has made this Jesus whom you crucified both Lord and Christ.’ What was Peter saying that Jesus was made Lord and Christ? Did he say that God gave a posthumous award to Jesus who was crucified? Let us listen to another sentence from that announcement of St Peter: ‘God raised this man Jesus to life, and all of us are witnesses to that.’ God didn’t give Jesus a posthumous award. God raised Jesus to life so that as Lord and Christ he could appear after his Resurrection. That’s what Peter and his fellow Apostles announced at Pentecost. That’s what the Shroud of Turin silently bears witness to. Jesus Christ is risen. He is not an inspiring episode in the history of humankind. He is not a tragic figure caught in unjust political and religious polemics of antiquity. He is risen. He is life giving. Therefore after 2000 years after those saving events of Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday we, like so many generations of Christians before us, say in response to his Resurrection: ‘The Lord is my shepherd... Near restful waters he leads me, to revive my drooping spirit. He guides me along the right path; he is true to his name.’ The words which for centuries were a prayer and a faith profession of the People of Israel when they turned their thoughts and hearts to God we, Christians, have made our own prayer and faith profession which arises from our thoughts and hearts filled with the power of our Lord’s Resurrection.
The sheep follow a shepherd not a thought or an idea of a shepherd.
We follow the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ, not a thought or an idea of someone kind and nice from 2000 years ago.
That’s why ‘walking in the valley of darkness’ which we experience these days we can say with faith and confidence: ‘no evil would I fear. You, my Risen Lord and Christ, are there with your crook and your staff, with these you give me comfort.’
My Dear fellow believers!
If you are a visualizer I encourage you to find an image of the Shroud of Turin. Absorb the gentle and life giving glow of the Resurrection radiating from it.
If you are an audile I encourage you to read aloud the words of St Peter from the Acts of the Apostles 2: 22-41. Be infused with joyous and firm testimony of those disciples who saw Jesus after his Resurrection, who ate and drank with him and who also witnessed his Ascension.
When three weeks ago the Shroud of Turin was displayed it was a manifestation of the Resurrection in the midst of our suffering. This manifestation was not a odds with the reality of our suffering but in a merciful way invited us to unite our suffering with Jesus’ so that we could also experience his Resurrection.