Matthew 28: 1-10
“Fearful yet overjoyed.” It seems like a rather odd combination, but that’s how Matthew describes the woman as they run away quickly from the tomb. Yet, if you examine the Gospel accounts of the resurrection it’s as if those two are intertwined as much as life and death are intertwined. Four times fear is mentioned in some way in this passage and the message remains the same as it is at Christmas…fear not! God is once again making things happen! The power of fear is real. Take note what it does to the two guards at the tomb. It pretty much paralyzes them at first as they become like dead men, numb from the experience. They too though will take off shortly after and head back to the chief priests to share the “good news” as they saw it and they will continue to act not out of faith, but out of fear and death. They will then plot against the disciples and the message the women are to deliver and try to convince that the body had been stolen. Now they didn’t have 24 hour social media or any means like that so obviously it wasn’t quite so easy to “sell” their message, but it will often force the early community at times to go into hiding for fear of their lives, fear of Paul as we will hear in this season who made it is primary duty early on to stop the movement and end the lives of those who followed the way. The power of fear is real; the power of death is real, but God gets the last word!
The message to the woman is to act on faith. They are to run and tell the “brothers” that Jesus and been raised and to announce to them to return to Galilee. They must go back to where it all began and begin to look at all they had experienced and heard with Jesus, but now through the lens of the paschal mystery. No it won’t come easily to them and it will take much time before they can move beyond the fear they have experienced and the pain they too have endured through their abandonment of Jesus in his time of greatest need. But regardless, they must go back and view life through this lens.
For us, we return to the font and in a few minutes renew our baptismal promises where it all began for us on this faith journey. As infants baptized we don’t really know what it truly means then, but we too enter into this paschal mystery. Sometimes even in our lives we have to go back to those early days to seek healing and to look at experiences through another lens. So often it is our past that holds us back from living life to its fullest. We hold onto hurts, see ourselves only through the cross, and have difficulty seeing hope. Death holds us back just as much as it did the guards at the tomb, almost as if we become frozen in time at those moments of hurts and everything is viewed through that one lens, separating life and death. Be not afraid to go back and seek out what was lost and so it may be brought back to life. Now, through the waters of baptism, we look through a new lens, where life and death are intertwined. We go back and look through the lens of the great mystery of faith, true faith, where God does more more great act of love by turning death into life, not just in the end of our lives, but God wants us to live today! Go back to “Galilee” and there you will see Jesus, there you will see the Christ, there you will see life through the lens of mystery, there where God’s love will heal and bring to life all that seemed dead! Happy Easter!