Sunday, April 16
The Resurrection of the Lord
Matthew 28: 1 – 10
After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning,
Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb.
And behold, there was a great earthquake;
for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven,
approached, rolled back the stone, and sat upon it.
His appearance was like lightning
and his clothing was white as snow.
The guards were shaken with fear of him
and became like dead men.
Then the angel said to the women in reply,
“Do not be afraid!
I know that you are seeking Jesus the crucified.
He is not here, for he has been raised just as he said.
Come and see the place where he lay.
Then go quickly and tell his disciples,
‘He has been raised from the dead,
and he is going before you to Galilee;
there you will see him.’
Behold, I have told you.”
Then they went away quickly from the tomb,
fearful yet overjoyed,
and ran to announce this to his disciples.
And behold, Jesus met them on their way and greeted them.
They approached, embraced his feet, and did him homage.
Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid.
Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee,
and there they will see me.”
I feel a bit discombobulated as I sit typing out my gospel reflection. It is Tuesday of Holy Week but I am supposed to be reflecting on the gospel offered to us for Easter Sunday, to tell again of the miracle of the Resurrection.
Last Sunday we celebrated Palm Sunday and welcomed Jesus into the holy city of Jerusalem. Before the week was out this man to whom we shouted songs of praise gave us the gift of his Body and Blood (so that we would be forever nourished by the gift of his life) then he was crucified on a cross. By the end of the week the parade would be very different. It would be a parade of very few people taking the body of Jesus to be laid in a borrowed tomb.
As a world community, we are held in the terror of warfare. On April 4th, at least 70 people were killed in Tuesday’s attack, which witnesses described as a fog of chemicals that enveloped men, women and children, leaving many to suffocate, choke or foam at the mouth. In horror, I looked at the young father who held his twin babies. They died along with his wife, two brothers, two nephews and a niece. There is no difficulty entering the horrors of Good Friday and seeing the connection to the horrors of warfare and to again witness the inhumanity shown to each other.
We know the emptiness of Holy Saturday because I think we live so much of life in “Holy-Saturday mode.” It is the in-between time. The time between a sense of hopelessness and hope; between the known and unknown. Repeatedly we live the Easter Mystery of life, death and resurrection but it is the time in-between that we try to grapple with.
The celebrant could choose the passage from the gospel according to John or according to Matthew. I chose the piece from Matthew.
Mary Magdalene and “the other Mary”, two women who had been there when Jesus was placed in the tomb and the tomb sealed with a very heavy stone. When everyone else had left, it was these two women who remained and kept vigil. They witness the angel rolling back the stone. They see the guards paralyzed with fear. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were afraid but not paralyzed and were open to the mission given to them. “then go quickly and tell the disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead.” They leave the tomb “fearful yet overjoyed.”
I think we know these women; we have, most undoubtedly walked in their shoes. Like them they could not prevent what happened to Jesus. We cannot change, as hard as we may try, the tragic course of events: a fatal illness, a marriage breakup, the death of a loved one, the downward decline of an addiction, a refugee crisis nor acts of chemical warfare. So often something breaks through that horror and sorrow and we are faced with a choice – be paralyzed and do nothing or work through our fear and sorrow and do what we can do to move toward new life.
These two women are the first witnesses to the resurrection and the first chosen for an Easter mission, “Then go quickly and tell his disciples.” In that one act, the history of the world was changed forever.
“The resurrection has changed the world forever.” We cannot focus on the resurrection alone – it is part of a bigger piece. It is part of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Through all of this we have hope now for new life in God
Through Jesus’ resurrection we all have been raised and now the mission is ours … go out and tell others about Jesus Christ. Be witnesses to his life, to his death and crucifixion and to his resurrection. Cling to hope in the in-between-times of life. Hold fast to hope when what is taken for normal is broken and shattered. Give witness and respond to the needs of others. The Risen Jesus is in our midst especially in our neighbor, the hungry, the prisoner, the thirsty and the lonely. Do you not recognize him? He has Risen and lives and gives our mission. The resurrected Jesus sends each one of us to go out to others. SO – “don’t be afraid,” go out and spread the word!!
-Sr. Teresa Tuite