The Gospel according to Matthew (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.
Reflection: They went away “fearful” but also “overjoyed.” What a fascinating combination! These two experiences do not at first seem like they go hand in hand. How is one fearful while also filled with joy? Wouldn’t fear undermine joy? And wouldn’t joy seem to cast out fear? This all depends upon what sort of “fear” these holy women were experiencing.
It seems that the fear these women were experiencing was one of the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit, the gift of holy fear. This is not a fear in the normal sense of being afraid. Rather, it’s a fear that is better defined as a deep reverence, wonder and awe. It’s a gift that enabled these women to recognize the understanding of what they were presently experiencing. They were in awe, holy shock, amazement and filled with joy all at the same time. They would have suddenly experienced the amazing realization and hope that Jesus had beaten death itself. They were most likely confused but also filled with a faith that left them with a conviction that something extraordinary had just taken place.
My wife and I has had a recent experience exactly like this. Three to four years ago we were having many issues with our daughter while she was in high school. So, on her 18th birthday (almost two years ago), she decided to leave home and live somewhere and with someone in which we had no information of either. It could go without saying that it was just devastating to my wife, my family and me. We had completely lost touch and had nowhere to turn except to prayer. Over the months we finally started communicating and visited each other every couple of months. Well, this past Wednesday, we received a call and Ruby wanted to come home. We knew why we got the call, she was facing an ultimatum, either come home or live on the streets. Our Lord has Blessed us this Easter because Connie and I have truly experienced the parable of the Prodigal son (daughter).
Just like the women in this Gospel reading we are overjoyed and yet fearful that she may leave us again. We want to tell everyone that she has returned but we are still apprehensive of what could happen. We want to trust her, but we must filter each conversation. All we could do is to rely on our faith, believe in the reality of the resurrection and trust in the power of prayer. Today’s scripture tells us, “Do not be Afraid”, but we are only human and sometimes we are challenged to trust in our faith and belief. Sometimes our faith fades because we have things like this happen in our lives. The Evil dude wants that. But it is time like this when our faith gets stronger, and we realize that Easter is present every day of our lives and we should experience the Resurrection every day.
We must let ourselves engage the mystery of the Resurrection. We must see it for what it is. We must strive to comprehend this gift and the amazing fact that in His Resurrection, Jesus destroys the effects of sin. He destroys death itself. Truly amazing!
Action of the Day: Perhaps in the silence of your room, or in church, or any place that you can comfortably express yourself, reflect upon the awesome event of the Resurrection and spend time this week in this humble adoration. Bow down and let yourself come face to face with the Risen Lord.