The annual Shroud of Turin speculation makes the news rounds every Easter. You know the story. Nothing has been added to it, really. The large cloth bears the marks of a crucified and beaten man lying dead. Whether one thinks it’s a forgery or not, most people say it defies explanation.
Shroudies believe that the blanket provides more proof of Jesus’ resurrection. They believe the markings are the result of a flash of light much like what happened in Nagasaki and Hiroshima after the nuclear bomb. All that was left of some people was their outline on a wall or sidewalk. Surely, the supernatural power of the resurrection might have marked the tomb, let alone the clothing-holding Christ.
I suppose if we could verify the shroud beyond a doubt it would be a helpful testimony to what hundreds of people experienced with all their senses: a risen Jesus. Yet, besides the multiple eye witness accounts of Jesus’ resurrection, there are other more significant items that bear the imprint of a crucified and resurrected 1st century man. You and me.
As St. Paul tells us, “Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his.” (Romans 6:3-5)
Better than the Shroud of Turin, we have been covered by the very living God and Savior in the waters of baptism. Better than a relic of St. John the Baptist’s skull, we get to touch and be healed by Jesus in the holy meal He instituted. These holy things are the center of a Christian’s life. We have actually been instructed by the Savior to find our peace, hope, and ability in these things.
In baptism we have all been imprinted with the new Adam, the son of humankind: perfect, sinless, God, will-never-die Savior. Our life is a living shroud, a burning bush, witness to His love for sinners and hope for the hopeless. We are a better testimony to God’s mercy and love for people than any possible relic.