Monday, April 13, 2009

Making out shapes by the dawn light of Easter

From the London Telegraph-

The Bank Holidays on each side of Easter Sunday are the only ones that do not fall at the same time each year. Unlike Christmas, our only other remaining religious holiday, Easter is determined by the moon. So is Passover, which began on Thursday. There must have been a full moon in the sky while Jesus lay in the tomb that Friday night at the Passover. On the first Easter morning, Mary Magdalen set out for the sepulchre of Jesus while it was still dark. In the picture (below) by Giovanni Gerolamo Savoldo in the National Gallery, London, she is shown swathed in a grey silk wrapper against the chill, with the dawn light, which scarcely catches the undersides of the clouds, reflected in its highlights.

Mary Magdalen is the first person who is recorded as seeing Jesus after his Resurrection. At first she does not know what she has seen. In the Gospel reading that millions of Christians, Anglican and Catholic, will hear in church tomorrow morning, she finds the tomb of Jesus empty, and weeps in her distress. Then, she turns round and sees Jesus standing there, but "supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, 'Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him.' " It is only when he calls her by her name that she recognises him. This is a moment of intense psychological drama. The dim light of dawn alone did not make Mary Magdalen mistake Jesus for the gardener. It is the sort of thing that someone who thought him dead would do, in a state of distress.


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