The Gospel according to Mark (28:8-15)
Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went away quickly from the tomb, fearful yet overjoyed, and ran to announce the news 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.” While they were going, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests all that had happened. The chief priests assembled with the elders and took counsel; then they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, telling them, “You are to say,
‘His disciples came by night and stole him while we were asleep.’ And if this gets to the ears of the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” The soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has circulated among the Jews to the present day.
Opening Prayer: Here I am, Lord. I come to hear your Gospel and live it out in my life. Please be with me on my journey today, and shepherd me through my fears so I can experience your joy.
Encountering Christ: This Gospel reminds me of times when we lied to someone and regretted it. Or even worse, we were caught lying and we tried to cover it up by paying out money or a promise. You hear about things like this all over the media how there’s some accusation about someone rich and powerful, then the next thing you know it’s somehow swept away. Yes, we are all sinners but it is being able to identify these faults of ours in order to perfect our mission that Christ has asked of us.
This Gospel reading falls into two very distinct parts, each part standing in contrast to the other. The first part is full of the Joy of Easter. Having heard the message from the empty tomb that Jesus is risen, the women are filled with awe and great joy. Their joy is deepened when the risen Lord himself meets them and commissions them to share the good news, the gospel, with Jesus’ brothers and sisters, his disciples. We have a sense of a joy that is ever expanding, beyond the circle of the women, to the wider circle of the disciples, and beyond them to that much wider circle of all those who will become the Lord’s disciples. We all belong in that wider circle and we are invited to taste the joy of the good news of Easter this Easter Monday. On a side note, don’t you find it’s interesting that women are the substance to this parable?
The second part of the gospel reading has a much more somber tone. There is a conspiracy to suppress the good news of Easter by spreading a false story, that Jesus’ body was, in reality, stolen. Just as money had been used to procure Jesus’ betrayal; it is used again to promote this lie. The second half of this gospel reading reminds us that there are always forces at work to suppress the Easter story, because this story is so significant and so much depends on it. Easter placed God’s seal of approval on all that Jesus said and did. In raising Jesus from the dead, God raised up all that Jesus stood for. To suppress the Easter story is to suppress the whole story of Jesus from his conception to his death. We are all asked to keep bearing witness to the Easter story even in the face of those who try to suppress it. We are to keep bearing witness to all that Jesus stood for, to his attitudes and values and we are to keep announcing God’s power to transform all our tombs into places of new life.
Some forms of sin can more easily be admitted, especially sins of weakness. When one is weak and falls, it may not be always easy to overcome that sin in the future, but it is easier to acknowledge it as sin when it is caused by human weakness. But a sin of weakness is much different than a sin of obstinate pride. Obstinate pride is not only hard to overcome, it’s hard to admit. It’s hard to admit our sin when it is based on our obstinacy and pride. As a result, this type of sin often leads to other sins such as ongoing deception, manipulation and anger. This is illustrated by these chief priests and elders. But if you can humble yourself and admit your sin when it comes from your pride, that humility can have a powerful and transformative effect upon your life.
After all the miracles and powerful preaching of Jesus, you would think that the chief priests and elders would have believed. But they didn’t. And then, after hearing the testimony of these soldiers, you would think they would have fallen on their knees, repented of their hardness of hearts, and come to believe. But they didn’t. They doubled down in their sin and added sin upon sin.
Closing Prayer: My Jesus, I am honored and humbled to be one of your brethren. Sometimes I forget that I am a child of God and fall into fear and despair. Help me to call on you to be at my side when I am afraid. Help me to praise you when I am joyful. Help me to always live with dignity and love as a child of our Father.
Action of the Day: I will examine my fears and bring them to you to shepherd me through them.