Monday, 25 April 2011
Father Ignatius makes a discovery.
There are times when a light turns on in your head and you see something clearly for the first time and understand something new you’d never realized before.
Father Ignatius was a studious type of person spending many hours reading the Bible as well as many books on theology, ancient history and similar subjects which would soon send any lesser head spinning widely.
One evening he retired to the room he called “my meditation corner” and after reciting the Rosary he started reading the Bible and cross-referencing certain passages with other books to better understand what God is teaching through His Word.
One passage in particular caught his interest. After Christ’s death and burial, we are told that Mary Magdalene visited the tomb and found the stone rolled away from the entrance. She ran to Simon Peter and the other disciple and told them what she had seen. Peter and the other disciple ran to the tomb. When Simon Peter got in and went inside he noticed the linen wrappings lying there, but the cloth that had covered Jesus’ head was folded and lying to the side.
There it was, in the Gospel of John Chapter 20 Verse 7.
Father Ignatius puzzled about this for a moment or two. He’d read that chapter many times and nothing specific occurred to him. But this time, as if a small voice buzzing in his head, he kept wondering the significance of what he had read.
“Why are we told that the cloth which covered Jesus’ head was folded and lying to the side? What’s so important about that?” Father Ignatius asked himself.
Yet somehow, John thought it important enough to mention it. Why?
Father Ignatius checked the other three Gospels but they did not mention this fact. “But why did John consider it so significant to point it out” he wondered silently.
After hours of searching other books and checking on ancient traditions he came upon something he’d never known before.
In ancient Hebrew tradition the folded napkin was symbolic between the master of the house and his servant.
When the servant set the dinner table he made sure that everything was perfectly set out as the master wished and then he would wait out of sight until the master finished eating.
The servant would not clear the table until the master had finished.
When the master finished his meal he would wipe his fingers and mouth with the napkin and then toss the napkin on the table.
The servant would then clear the table, because in those days a tossed napkin meant “I’ve finished.”
However … and this is the significant bit which Father Ignatius discovered for himself, if the master left the table but neatly folded the napkin and laid it beside his plate, the servant would not touch the table.
Because the folded napkin meant “I’m coming back!”
“He’s coming back …” mumbled Father Ignatius in wonderment.
That’s what John was trying to tell us in his Gospel.