Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!

From the May AD 2003
Our Lady of the Rosary
Parish Bulletin

Questions about the Holy Week readings

    Question:  The Gospel on Palm Sunday said that with the death of our Lord on the Cross, "the earth quaked, and the rocks were rent, and the tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep arose; and coming forth out of the tombs after His resurrection, they came into the holy city, and appeared to many." Did those who were resurrected die again later?

    Answer:  The Scriptures do not say anything more about their fate. Of those raised from the dead by our Lord during His lifetime -- the daughter of Jairus, the son of tthe widow of Naim, and Lazarus of Bethany -- the only one about whom we have furtther information is Lazarus, who dined with our Lord shortly before the crucifixion.1 Semi-historical legend has it that Lazarus helped evangelize Gaul (modern France) and was beheaded during the persecution of Domitian.2 As to any of the others, presumably they too were subject to natural mortality and eventually died. There is no tradition that such resurrected souls were assumed into heaven after the fashion of our Lord and Lady.

    It seems reasonable to presume, as well, that God raised only those souls foreseen to persevere in holiness. It would be, after all, a terrible thing to die the first time in the state of grace, only to sink into serious sin before dying the second time.

    Question: How did the evangelists know what happened while the apostles slept in the garden of Gethsemene?

    Answer: Matthew and Mark are specific in identifying the sleeping apostles as Peter, James, and John.3 That leaves eight other possible witnesses to the event, not to mention our Lord who spent forty days with the apostles after His resurrection. Our Lord roused the sleeping apostles three times -- probably leaving them with enough recollection to piece the Gospel account together, even without the help of witnesses.


    1.  John xi ; Matt. xxvi; Mark xiv; John xii.
    2.  Catholic Encyclopedia, s.v. "St. Lazarus of Bethany,
    3.   Matthew xvi: 37; Mark xv: 33.


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