Happy Easter! Did you know that the celebration of Our Lord’s Resurrection continues in the Church for eight days, called the Octave of Easter. Each day of the Octave is ranked as a Solemnity in the Church’s liturgical calendar, the highest ranking of liturgical feast.
At Mass upon each day of the Octave, we will hear about a different appearance which Jesus made in his resurrected body. Bishop Earl Boyea would like to invite you to join him each day to reflect upon each appearance. His prayerful hope is that these meditations lead each of s to a renewal of our faith in the death and resurrection of the Son of God for us and for our salvation.
Today, Easter Monday, Bishop Boyea reflects upon the encounter of two women, Mary Magdalene and Mary, the mother of James and Joseph, with the Risen Christ as recorded in the Gospel of Saint Matthew 28:8-15. Here is what Bishop Boyea has to say:
Bishop Boyea’s Seven Days of Easter | Monday | Matthew 28:8-15
The dead one has risen! What becomes most important in Matthew’s Gospel (28:8-15) is the proof or verification that the same Jesus who was crucified and buried is the one who was raised from the dead. Matthew is the only evangelist who records that Pilate allowed guards to be posted at the tomb upon Jesus’ burial. Matthew also records that these same guards were later bribed to tell people that Jesus’ body had been stolen, a rumor that was apparently rampant. Matthew’s Gospel counters these rumors regarding Jesus.
So, the two women, Mary Magdalene and Mary, the mother of James and Joseph, were present at the death of Jesus (Matthew 27:56) as well as at the burial (Matthew 27:61) and now will encounter the risen Lord (Matthew 28:8-10) and see that these three events concern the one and same person, Jesus of Nazareth, whom they have been following. There is no trick here. There is no stand-in double for this event. It is the same Jesus and these two woman are the witnesses of that continuity.
These women are also given a commission. The angel who greets them at the tomb with the news that Jesus had been raised tells them to see the place where Jesus had been buried. They must be witnesses of the change that has taken place. Then they are told to go and tell the disciples that Jesus had been raised and would meet them in Galilee. On their way to fulfill this charge, they meet Jesus himself. He reaffirmed their mission to the other disciples.
Death, burial, and resurrection are the three elements which these women saw and to which they were then able to testify. This became the very heart of the Church’s earliest profession of faith. St. Paul records this in his First Letter to the Corinthians: “For I handed on to you as of first importance what I also received: that Jesus died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures; that he was buried; that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures” (I Cor 15:3-4).
Sisters and brothers, our faith rests on these simple facts: Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. All else flows from this. That is why Easter is the heart of our faith and the celebration of that faith. As the angel told the two women, “Do not be afraid” but go forth and proclaim this good news.