The angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: “He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.” Now I have told you.’
Sometimes no matter how many times someone tells you something you can’t believe them. Perhaps you’ve had a conversation with one of your friends and they’ve told you something significant, maybe that they’ve got a big promotion at work, or they’re getting married, or they’re expecting a baby. Maybe you thought they were pulling your leg and responded, “seriously? No, seriously? Really? Surely not!” Their news has come out of the blue and taken you completely by surprise. You think that they’re telling you a joke.
Maybe you’ve responded in this way when you’ve read something that Jesus has said. “Seriously? I can’t believe it!” There is no doubt that Jesus’ disciples often thought this when Jesus told them something. Jesus predicted his death and resurrection throughout his earthly ministry (see for instance Matthew 16:21, Mark 10:34, and John 2:18-22), but when he was killed on the cross, the disciples fled in fear. They did not seem particularly confident that Jesus would rise from the dead.
Yet rise he did, and today, Easter Sunday, Christians around the world unite in celebrating the resurrection of Christ. Jesus was killed. He went to the grave. And then he rose again. Death was not the end for Jesus. And thanks to him, death is not the end for us. Jesus defeated death and rose again so that we too might rise again. He opened the way to heaven for us.
In the above passage Matthew recounts an angel giving this incredible news to Mary Magdalene and “the other Mary.” The two Marys went to the tomb to embalm Jesus’ body, but it wasn’t there. “He is not here,” the angel told them. “He has risen, just as he said.” In rising again Jesus had fulfilled one of his key – and perhaps most outlandish – promises. He had said that he would rise again, and he had.
The Marys were straight away given a task. They were told to go and tell Jesus’ disciples about the resurrection of their Lord. Two women, regarded as second class citizens based solely on their gender. Mary Magdalene, probably regarded as a third class citizen because of previous issues and difficulties in her life. Two messengers entrusted with carrying the most important news of humanity to Jesus’ other disciples.
On this Easter Sunday rejoice in the resurrection of Christ. Reflect also on how Jesus is entirely faithful in his promises. And consider how you, too, have been called on by Christ to share news of his resurrection with the world. You might consider yourself a poor evangelist but if Jesus entrusted the Mary Magdalene to share the Gospel, I have no doubt that he entrusts us all.
He is risen indeed. Alleluia!