A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Matthew.
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.
Good News Reflection:
Do you know what it’s like to be fearful and, at the same time, overjoyed? That’s how the women in today’s Gospel story felt when they encountered the risen Lord for the first time.
I can remember numerous occasions when I felt this way. For one, the moment my first child was born. In the midst of that wonderfully awesome joy, fear made me wonder: Can I be a good enough mom to handle the unimaginable responsibilities of raising this son into a God-serving man? (The answer was: “Yes, but only with the Holy Spirit’s help. And when he grows up and seems to stray from My plans for him, it’s not because you failed as a parent; it’s because the Holy Spirit isn’t finished with him yet.”)
Think of any overwhelming, maybe even impossible, task that you’ve been given. Or any God-ordained task that you have completed but apparently failed to do well.
Easter is not merely the end of Lent. Resurrection is not merely the end of an old life or old habits or an old problem that you’ve wanted to overcome. Easter is a season — an unending season — of joyfully running to others to share the Good News like those first evangelizers on that first Easter Sunday. The resurrection experience is a season of letting your faith be a source of joy for those who don’t yet know the joy of having faith in the resurrected Jesus, like the women did for the disciples on that gloriously surprising day.
How overwhelming does that task feel?
If we really understand that we’re Easter people, which means that we’ve been resurrected from the destruction of sin, how can we restrain our joy? When we’re fully aware, we don’t want to keep this truth to ourselves. We push the fearfulness aside and freely share our life-changing experiences with others.
The movement of growth during Lent was inward. We reflected on our need for forgiveness. Now, the movement of growth is outward. In this, we are too often held back by fears: What if we get rejected? What if we get persecuted for our faith?
But Jesus tells us what he told the first disciples: “Don’t be afraid.” And why not? The reason is simple and profound: Because he is with us always, and because he fills in the gaps of our inadequacies with his Holy Spirit. Jesus the Man kisses our wounds and embraces us in our persecutions. His Spirit gives us wisdom and inspiration.
The joy of Easter Sunday is nice, but let’s be honest. In our everyday lives, do we live more by fear and worry or by faith and joy? Easter Sunday is the beginning of a season. Easter faith is the restoration of joy based on the fact that we can trust God. He knows what’s best for us. Every day, he is actively working a plan that converts sufferings into victories and hardships into blessings.
It’s time to move beyond the Cross. We have much to celebrate in Jesus. There are people around us who need to see us celebrate our faith. The Good News isn’t GOOD news unless it raises people up out of their miseries. This is the evidence that the world needs, proving that Jesus is still very much alive.
Praised be to You, my Lord! You allow yourself to be found by those who await You with sincere humility and expectant joy. Amén.
© 2017 by Terry A. Modica