Monday, April 12, 2004

In today's Gospel reading (Matthew 28:8-15), we see three responses to Christ's resurrection by three different groups of people. All three respond in fear, but only one group also exhibits joy and trust in God. First, the soldiers who witnessed the earthquake, the angel, and the angel's rolling back of the stone which covered our Lord's grave (28:2-4) absolutely terrified the guards. Scripture says they became like dead men. What do they do with their fear? They go to the chief priests and tell them everything that had happened (11).

Second, the chief priests, although it is not explicitly stated in Scripture, are afraid. They are afraid that what Jesus had said would happen will be believed to have happened, namely, He has risen from the dead. In their fear, they pay off the guards to spread the story that the while the guards slept, the disciples came and stole the body of Jesus to fake His resurrection. It is interesting to note how fear begets fear and fear will work together with the fearful to produce lies, bribery, and faithlessness. The guards are so afraid they agree to this plan, and they trust the chief priests to make everything right with their superiors if they become concerned about the report of the guards having fallen asleep on duty. The chief priests are so afraid of losing power that they are willing to bribe guards, in other words have dealings with Gentiles, and instigate a false story.

Finally, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary who also witnessed the earthquake, the angel, and the angel rolling away the stone are afraid. However, the angel says to them, "Do not be afraid", and the angel tells them that the Lord, whom they seek, has risen. Scripture records that they "departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell His disciples" (8). The key is that they also had joy. Were they afraid? Yes, but they were joyful because they heard that Jesus had risen from the dead. Their faith enabled them to believe the words of the angel, and their faith moved them to obey his command to tell the disciples.

Jesus rewards their faith by meeting them on the way to the disciples. They worship the Lord when they see Him because they are filled with the joy of the great work that has been accomplished. Jesus, whom they love, was crucified, but now He has risen from the dead. He is alive and in front of them. He too, says, "Do not be afraid; go and tell my brethren" (10). It is not recorded by St. Matthew, but I think that they were no longer afraid after they met our Lord. He told them to not be afraid, and His perfect love will cast out all fear.

When I am afraid, I need to remember this Gospel reading. Jesus wants us to not fear because He is with us. And He helps us to overcome our fear with greater faith which He gives us. The women demonstrate how to handle fear. Trust in God. Rejoice in what He has done. Move ahead based on the joy of Christ's resurrection and despite your fear.

He is Risen! Alleluia!

Posted by David at 8:01 AM  |  Comments (0)  | 


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