Monday within the Octave of Easter
“Do not be afraid!” commanded the lightning white angel at the empty tomb.
A squadron of at least four guards, among the toughest and most indomitable warriors of Rome, “were shaken with fear of him and became like dead men” (Matthew 28:4).
In contrast, the women were “fearful yet overjoyed” by the encounter, for their love of Jesus filled them with unearthly courage to stand fast and receive the good news of the resurrection from the heavenly messenger.
Mary Magdalene and “the other Mary” (probably the mother of James and Joseph, as mentioned previously) were charged with the monumental task of witnessing to the apostles. In an age and culture in which women’s roles were strictly confined, placing the weight of such a (literally) earthshaking testimony on their shoulders was groundbreaking on Jesus’ part. Nothing will be impossible for God, said the angel Gabriel to the Woman who set the world on a new axis (Luke 1:37).
The gentleness and receptivity of the women who followed Jesus became their strength in his greatest hours of agony. Possessing this quality of receptivity, the beloved disciple John, the only apostle at the foot of the Cross, received Jesus’ beloved mother into his care (John 19:26-27).
Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”Matthew 28:10
Addressing his runaway disciples affectionately as brothers, Jesus hastened to reunite the disillusioned band in the imperishable joy of the risen Lord.
Meanwhile, the guards chose to suppress what they saw with their own eyes, accepting a bribe in spiritual blindness. As in the case of Pontius Pilate, truth is not just a matter of the intellect, but of the will. Truth is a matter of the heart, a personal “yes” to God.