In my homily today regarding the Triumph of the Cross I began by talking about my interest in the Shroud of Turin. (The photo shows the face detail and a computer generated representation of what he may have looked like.) I mentioned the computer enhancement of the eyes of the crucified man depicted therein. What was revealed was the imprint of two Roman coins minted in the years 29 and 31AD. The funeral rite of placing coins over the eyes of the deceased was intended to ensure that the eyes would seal shut in rigor mortis. This and many other amazing revelations couldn’t possibly have been done by a medieval forger as some claim. One of the few serious arguments against the authenticity of the Shroud was the carbon 14 dating linking it to the 13th and 14 centuries. This was dismissed in 2005 when it became apparent that the samples taken from the corner of the fabric where shown to have been repaired with new material in the middle of the last millennium.
The main significance of the Shroud is that it details the terrible tortures inflicted upon Jesus in his Passion in which he made atonement for our sins. I mentioned this death of atonement on 3 occasions to give it a special emphasis whilst linking it to the central verse of the gospel passage: Yes, God loved the world so much that he gave [sacrificed] his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not be lost but may have eternal life (Jn 3:16). The Shroud detail gives expression to a verse of Isaiah 52/53 that provides the first reading on Good Friday: “So disfigured did he look that he appeared no longer human” – like a victim from the worst imaginable car wreck.
So what should our response to such great love be? I quoted the second reading which speaks about making Jesus Lord of our lives: “every tongue should proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord.” This means we make Jesus and the truth of the Gospel as the centre of our lives and decision making.
I linked this to a local Reformation martyr Fr Tirry who I said died for two Gospel principles in the era of King Henry VIII. Firstly that the head of the Church on earth should be the successor of St Peter as decreed by Jesus in Matt 16: “You are Peter and upon the rock I will build my Church. And I give you the keys of the Kingdom of heaven…” Secondly Fr Tirry died as a witness to the permanence of marriage as decreed by Jesus when he said: “What God has put together, let no man put asunder.” Lastly I mentioned “martyrs” of a lesser variety who were dismissed last year from their government party because they refused to vote for the abortion legislation.
At the end of Mass I invited people to take away an “autopsy report” on Jesus – an examination of the Shroud by a forensic pathologist. It can be seen at this link: https://onedrive.live.com/redir?resid=E43A86B816831CB5!290&authkey=!AFMUvUDq3hb8F_A&ithint=file%2cpdf. You may need to adjust the zoom to see it clearly.
Life is never boring when Jesus is Lord of who we are and what we do!