Acts 2:14, 22-33; Matthew 28:8-15
Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went away quickly from the tomb, fearful yet overjoyed. (Matt 28:8)
Fearful yet overjoyed. That could probably describe a lot of moments in our lives. For me, it conjures up powerful and precious memories of childbirth – the anticipation of wanting to meet my baby, coupled with the fear of labor. Still, after each of my three children were born, how quickly the fear faded from memory leaving only softness in its place. I imagine for the women at the tomb, the experience in today’s Gospel was much the same, as the fear of Good Friday, still so fresh in their minds, is replaced with the realization that He is risen. They did not know what to make of it, and yet they knew enough to run and spread the news.
Maybe that’s why Jesus appeared first to the women. Because he knew that those fearless enough to sacrifice everything to bring new life into the world were sure to be fearless in the face of the impossible. Rather than hide, the women rejoiced; rather than question, the women believed. How easy it would have been to brush aside their encounter as a figment of their imagination, grief pangs taken to the extreme.
But they chose the more difficult path: the path of truth, the Way of Jesus. And they were not content to keep it to themselves. They knew they had to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with all who would listen. Will we choose the same?
Think of a time in your life when you felt both fear and joy. Was it a new job, a new child, a move to another city, a relationship that required risk? What made joy win out over fear? Now think of a time in your life when fear made you shrink back, left you paralyzed. What did you do to shake out of it? Where was God in the midst of it? Was God obviously present, or perhaps only visible in hindsight? Today, let go of any fear that is holding you back, and, like the women at the tomb, let the joy of Easter flood your heart and shake you out of your spiritual slumber.
Risen Jesus, give us the courage to live with joy even when we are afraid, to know you are with us even when we feel alone, to take your message out into the world where it can heal, comfort, strengthen, save.