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Saturday 23 April 2011

DO NOT TOUCH ME! - Excerpt from Fifth Gospel - A Novel.


N the early hours before day rise, the mother of the Lord and the other women went to the rock-hewn tomb in  Joseph’s garden, to see to the proper anointing of their master’s body. Magdalena was late in following, and she had not yet reached the garden when she was met by the mother and the others returning from the tomb. They told her that on arriving they had found the tomb open and empty. In and around the tomb, they had seen visions of angels who had said their lord was already risen, and that they must look for him among the living.
Magdalena full of concern, returned with the others to the cenacle to tell the men and found only Lazarus-John with Simon-Peter in the upper room.
Upon seeing them, Simon-Peter came directly to the Lord's Mother, to beg her forgiveness. He recounted how on the night of Passover he had fled the court of Caiaphas, and that afterwards he had denied his Lord three times for fear of his life. Because of this, full of shame, he had gone to Olivet, where he found a cave. In it he had slept fitfully, until awakened by an overwhelming effulgence – the brilliant form of his master illuminating the gloom of his cave! His master told him to go and tell the others what he had seen.  
The Mother of the Lord now recounted what the women had seen: angels, rolled away stones, and an empty grave. Full of wonder, the men resolved to see it for themselves and took themselves out of the city with Magdalena following in their train. 
By the time the three of them arrived at the tomb, a red-gold promise of sunrise lay on the margins of the horizon. Lazarus-John, carrying the lamp, was first through the low door of the sepulchre and he told them what he saw: a great gash in the earth, a deep cleft had opened up, and now the linen cloths were lying on one side of it, and the head napkin on the other.
Simon-Peter, having by now entered the sepulchre himself, confirmed that the grave was empty. There followed some discussion between them and not knowing what they should do, they left to find the other disciples.
Magdalena remained behind.
Alone, at the entrance to the sepulchre, a deep sense of loss beckoned tears from her eyes; her master was gone, his body was not found, and she did not know how he could return without it.  Not having seen the angels like the others, she wanted to know it for herself. She watched the sun rise over the hills and when it cast its benevolent rays on the mouth of the tomb, she braced herself and dared to look inside.
She gasped.
Lit up by the birthing light were two angels, one at the head of the great stone bier and the other at the foot of it.
Woman, why do you weep?
She harnessed her mind to answer. ‘Because they have taken away my Lord and I know not where they have taken him!’
Fearful, she turned to go, but there was a man standing before her, haloed by sun. She did not know him, but he seemed full of the power of bourgeoning and sprouting life –  as if he were a gardener, a planter, or a cultivator. To see him made her hope that he might know where her master’s body might be.
He took the words from out of the mouths of the angels,
‘Woman, why do you weep?’
‘Sir, if you have borne his body from here, tell me where you have laid it, and I will take him away.’
The man now called her by her old name, ‘Mary!’
The memory of her master’s words rose up into her thinking:
Unite with the bridegroom in the bridal chamber of your heart, and from this union will arise in you a knowledge of Who I Am!
Her eyes saw Him now! The youthful body of Jesus, in all its flawless fullness!
‘Master!’ She moved to go to him, but he forestalled her.
‘Touch me not, dear Magdalena, for it will pollute me, the mystery is not yet consumed. Christ must yet unite fully with me. Go, tell the others to wait, tell them not to be sorrowful, for I will soon come to them!’
Joyful and obedient, she ran all the way back to the cenacle.

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