Commentary on the Gospel of
Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, are racing from the tomb. What they have just encountered has shaken them to their core. They are carrying a message from an angel who rolled away the large stone at the tomb’s entrance. The angel explained to them that Jesus had risen from the tomb and they are to tell his disciples to meet him in Galilee. As they run, they are driven by fear and joy. The angel’s words tumble through their thoughts: Do not be afraid. They wonder, even with such joyous news, how can they not feel fearful?
Suddenly they encounter Jesus himself. They fall to his feet breathless, elated, and shocked. Just a few days before, they had witnessed his unspeakable suffering and death. And now he stands before them witnessing the truth of the message they carry, as he gently echoes the angel’s words: Do not be afraid. Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me. These two women, the first evangelizers of our resurrected Jesus, have just had a transformative encounter with him and they are forever changed. Their fear has vanished.
This year, Easter and the days which follow will be different throughout the Christian world. It will be different because the world is different. We are forever changed. After a year of tremendous suffering, loss, fear and sorrow due to the pandemic, Jesus invites us to receive the gifts of his Resurrection in a new way. We are invited to take slow, courageous steps to emerge from our suffering and walk toward the light.
Easter, the celebration of the Resurrection, extends comfort, solace, and peace to us in a new way. Although some of us are not yet attending Mass in churches, Easter invites all of us to allow the light, candles, flowers, alleluias, joyful music, and the exhilaration of the Resurrection into our hearts in a more pure and concentrated fashion than in the past because like the two women, we are changed.
We notice things now that we may not have noticed before. We appreciate aspects of our lives we may not have appreciated. We carry deep sorrow for lives lost and hardships endured because we have suffered ourselves and/or looked into the eyes of others who suffer. Their pain has become our pain and our pain theirs.
Easter and our slow emergence from the pandemic invite us to push away the stones that have blocked us in the past from fully hearing and embracing the Easter message or for fully living our lives. Jesus offers to help us roll away the stones in our hearts. Stones that have stopped us from extending forgiveness, mercy, compassion, and love.
Mary Magdalene and the other Mary raced from the tomb where the angel had rolled away the stone. Both the angel and Jesus told them not to be afraid. As we push away the stones in our lives, may this message of Easter fill us with joy as we go forward without fear and become forever changed.