Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Of Relics and Righteousness

Much has been made of Pope Benedict XVI's recent excursion to view the famous "Shroud of Turin" in the Italian city of that name. Calling it an "icon written in blood, he spoke of how the fabric's visible markings corresponded to the Gospel description of Christ's crucifixion.
According to a Rome news service, Father Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, suggested why the Pope presented the cloth as an "icon."

"More than the mysterious origin of this image, what attracts is the impressive way in which it corresponds, in very numerous details, with the account of the passion of Christ in the Gospels: the wounds, the bloodshed, the wounds of the crown of thorns, the beatings of the flagellation. And, in the center, the solemn face of the crucified, a face that corresponds with the most ancient sketches of Christian iconography, which in turn confirms and inspires it."
For centuries the authenticity of the shroud has been fiercely debated among scholars, scientists, and religious leaders. Found in Troyes, France, in 1453, it was moved to Turin in 1578. It became the property of the Holy See of the Catholic Church in 1983. Radiocarbon testing has been applied to the shroud, as well as high-definition digital camera examinations, color pigment tests, chemical and biological analyses, medical forensic studies, and dirt particle evaluations.

And the verdict?

The jury is still out.

And will remain so, we reckon, for as long as the shroud is left to be examined. Though a source of inspiration and for some, even confirmation, of Christ's death and resurrection, this most famous of grave linens will forever remain mute concerning the exact individual around whom it was wrapped.

A fantastic curiosity to be sure, and as such it got me thinking. So what if this shroud was actually wrapped around Jesus? Or what if we had -- beyond a shadow of a doubt -- Jesus' clothing or his carpenter tools? What if -- somehow -- we even had the dried remains of His blood -- verifiable as residue on the bottom of some first-century Roman pot?

These would confirm that He lived, but they would not prove He rose from the dead.
Nothing can prove that. Only faith can believe it.

1 comment :

Ed Blonski said...

The Shroud only confirms - if it truly confirms anything - that a man died.

Even if it turns out to be the burial clothes of Jesus, it only confirms He died.

We cannot prove the resurrection - in one sense - because you cannot prove anything from a lack of evidence (the grave was empty, after all).

On the other hand, the resurrection of Jesus is proved nearly 2 billion times every day - in the hearts and lives of Christians today.