Mary Magdalene and the other Mary left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them and said, ‘Greetings!’ And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshipped him. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.’
While they were going, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests everything that had happened. After the priests had assembled with the elders, they devised a plan to give a large sum of money to the soldiers, telling them, ‘You must say, “His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.” If this comes to the governor’s ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.’ So they took the money and did as they were directed. And this story is still told among the Jews to this day.
So they took the money and did as they were directed.
We live in a materialistic society. We are all encouraged to value the acquisition of money and ‘things’ above everything else. On a daily basis we are bombarded with advertising that reinforces and feeds our need to acquire more money and more ‘things’. This venal attitude to life leads down a path that could not be further from the truth of the victory of Christ’s resurrection.
In today’s reading we encounter two completely different reactions to the reality of the resurrection. Firstly, we see two faithful women who left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Then we see the soldiers accepting a bribe to keep quiet about the truth of what they had seen.
Immediately prior to the beginning of today’s reading we read of a great earthquake and an angel of the Lord who rolled back the stone. It is clear from Matthew’s account of this moment that both the women and the soldiers witnessed this great event, but only the women remained faithful to the truth of their experience. Yes, the women ran to the disciples with fear, but they also ran with great joy. The soldiers, on the other hand, shook and became like dead men. The soldiers were paralysed with fear and never got to the point of experiencing the joy of the moment.
The reaction of the women is an example to us all. The women experienced fear. We should not be surprised at that. They had seen Jesus perform many miracles, including raising his friend from the dead. But, this was different. To have undergone the torments, the pain and the cruel execution must, surely, have been the end. But, no! There was Jesus standing before them. This, the greatest miracle of all, would have struck fear into the strongest of hearts. However, the women did not stay in that place of fear. The women mustered their strength and did what all believers in Christ are called to do … they ran to share the message of the resurrection with others.
Today we are called to make a decision. Are we paralysed with fear and prepared to compromise our commitment to Christ because it is politically expedient to do so? Or, are we fearful of Christ’s power but, in that holy fear, resolved to be faithful apostles … running with great joy to tell the world the Good News of Jesus Christ?