The good news of the empty tomb seemed to be over before it started. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were bewildered from their encounter with the angel and the empty tomb. As they ran to get the news to the disciples, they were also dealing with mixed emotions, feeling both “fearful yet overjoyed,” (Mt 28:8) when in the midst of their travel they were greeted by Jesus. Jesus assured them and sent them to, “tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me” (Mt 28:10). Off the pair went to share the message that Jesus had risen!
At the same time, some of the guards who witnessed the event at the tomb, took a different way and headed into the city to meet with the chief priests. They relayed the incident about the earthquake and the angel appearing to them and the two women. After deliberating, the chief priests and the elders paid the guards a large sum to perpetuate the tale that his disciples took Jesus away.
Who would be believed, the two women or the guards? Apparently both! Mary Magdalene and the other Mary fulfilled their first apostolic role and passed on Jesus’ message to his disciples for them to meet him in Galilee. Galilee was where the public ministry of Jesus began. They would all go back to the beginning. The tale spread by the guards would also be believed, because by the time of the writing of the Gospel of Matthew, the community, to which he wrote, were aware that, “this story has circulated among the Jews to the present day” (Mt 28:15).
Let us ponder some questions today. Which account do we believe? Did Jesus really rise again from the dead as the angel, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary claim or was this an elaborate plot by the disciples of Jesus to stage his resurrection, as the guards portrayed? How we answer these questions ought to make a difference in our lives. If we say yes, we believe in Jesus and that he rose again, do we live our lives any differently than those who say they don’t believe?
We, as followers of Jesus who rose again, are to be like the angel and each Mary. We are to be Alleluia people, those who proclaim hope and life, those who bring light into places of darkness, those who empower and inspire. We are able to live and proclaim in this way when we have aligned ourselves with Jesus who is the Resurrection, who is our Way, our Truth, and our Life.
Painting: The Empty Tomb, Mikhail Nesterov, 1889
Link for the Mass readings for Monday, April 2, 2018: