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 then 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 for whom it was written was aware that, “this story has circulated among the Jews to the present day” (Mt 28:15).
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, that 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, who follow Jesus who rose again, are to be like the angel and each Mary. We are to be an Alleluia people, allowing the risen Christ to proclaim through us to those facing death – the promise of hope and life; to those living in the darkness of sin and addiction – the inviting light of a new direction; to those who are weak and indifferent – our presence and accompaniment. Each day, during this Easter Season, may we become less, so that the risen Jesus, who is our Way, our Truth, and our Life, becomes more.