The Seven Readings (pg.1) | Gospel & Rector’s Easter Message (pg.2)
Matthew 28:1-10 – He has risen from the dead and now he is going before you into Galilee
AFTER the sabbath, and towards dawn on the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala and the other Mary went to visit the sepulchre. And all at once there was a violent earthquake, for the angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled away the stone and sat on it. His face was like lightning, his robe white as snow.
The guards were so shaken, so frightened of him, that they were like dead men. But the angel spoke; and he said to the women, ‘There is no need for you to be afraid. I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said he would. Come and see the place where he lay, then go quickly and tell his disciples, “He has risen from the dead and now he is going before you to Galilee; it is there you will see him.” Now I have told you.’
Filled with awe and great joy the women came quickly away from the tomb and ran to tell the disciples.
And there, coming to meet them, was Jesus. ‘Greetings’ he said. And the women came up to him and, falling down before him, clasped his feet. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers that they must leave for Galilee; they will see me there.’
REFLECTION AND EASTER GREETING
ONE of my most cherished favourites in the Resurrection accounts is a small detail unique only to St. Matthew, read tonight in Year A:
“… there was a violent earthquake, for the angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled away the stone and SAT ON IT.”
What a perfect three-word description of the complete subjection and defeat of death and the devil; the Victory of Love and Life!!!
The very stone which secured death in eternal decay has been removed from the Tomb, is trampled and sat upon by the angel. The Lord is Risen! The Tomb is opened and empty! The stone of death is sat on! the Lord is Risen!
Let’s hail the Risen Lord with three jubilant shouts!
V. Lord is Risen. R. Alleluia!
V. The Lord is Risen indeed. R. Alleluia! Alleluia!
V. The Lord is truly Risen indeed. R. Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
For in our life there has been only one problem and that one problem is gone – death, consequence of sin, promoted and commercialized by the devil.
Death drives us consciously and unconsciously to fear, self-pity, desperation, wickedness and evil, and to give in to the insidious wiles of the devil… all in a thousand forms and shades.
In the forms and shades of our physical looks – “so ugly, nobody wants me” – die-loh! (Imagine the hundred ways we try to make up for this – stretching to get taller, dieting to get slimmer, covering our face with massive cosmetics to look more like the devil, going for surgery to raise our nose and firm up different parts of our body and rid of the wrinkles, dyeing our hair to look vigorous, wearing lofty heels to look proportionate … on and on and on …).
Our intellectual and social abilities – “so slow and stupid, so out of place, disgraceful, will never make it” – die-loh! (How to pass exams, get a good job, make the money and the name, earn enough to survive and enjoy, not to be ridiculed, despised and shamed by others, how to survive, the rest are so smart! Only I not loved, they hate me, even my parents, better kill myself).
Our physical and spiritual health – “heart problem, diabetes, cancer, immunity problems, dementia… ageing…” sure die one and die very soon one! (Our temper, anger, bitterness, defensiveness and aggression, violence and revenge, our need to prove ourselves, to live up to others’ expectation… so stressed, sure die one and die miserably one)!
But death has been destroyed, sat disgracefully upon, gone — its every form and shade vanishing! We will stand up and hold our heads high, because God has loved us (never mind if the whole world doesn’t), has died, risen and conquered death for us, that we may learn, know, and live untroubled by what others think of us, by appearances, by our own and other people’s perceptions … but to live and live in love to the full! Alleluia! This is way beyond our expectation, beyond our imagination:
“… so will the crowds be astonished at him and kings stand speechless before him; for they shall see something never told and witness something never heard before!” Someone Rising from the dead!
But why talk about death tonight of all nights on this Easter Vigil, the Mother of all Vigils when we watch like no other nights in great expectancy, believing in the Hope that does not deceive, for the Lord is our Hope, He is Risen indeed? Goodness, love, life, have won! Sin, death, wickedness and evil gone! It’s not here, then why talk about it???!!!
So all the eight scriptural readings tonight do not talk about it when they present us with the history of our salvation, God’s own love story for each of us!
From Creation to the Sacrifice of Isaac to the liberation through the Waters of the Red Sea, the Promise and Covenant made again and again through the prophets, the waters of Baptism in Christ when dying with Him we shall also certainly rise with Him, to the Resurrection of Jesus Christ the New Adam, the New Immortal Humanity.
Not a word on sin, the fall, rebellion, stubbornness, hardness of heart, death and condemnation, nothing. Only the goodness and beauty of God, His jealous love, His being always true to Himself even if He had to love unjustly, to promise, to save, even to give His Only Son, now Risen, immortality restored.
We are a resurrected people. Let’s rejoice, and stop mourning about our sinfulness which is taken care of by the Mercy of God the Father, the Father of all prodigal sons and daughters brought home tonight.
The Easter Message in the gospel, however, includes an instruction we must not fail to attend to: We are told to meet the Risen Lord in GALILEE!!! Not by the previous Lord before His death, but the new and Risen Christ.
“He has risen from the dead and now he is going before you to GALILEE; it is there you will see him.”
All through our life, we must always constantly return to and start again in our “Galilee”, where and when we first met and fell in love with Him, to:
- the moments where and when we heard Him first proclaimed the Coming of the Kingdom;
- where and when He called us to repent;
- where and when He called us to follow Him and be fishers of men;
- where and when He spoke to us of His suffering, death, and resurrection;
- where and when He told us to carry the Cross with Him every day and share in His Resurrection.
This instruction is founded on a Mission splendidly Accomplished. This is no longer the Jesus of Galilee speaking. This is the Risen One at the empty tomb near Jerusalem speaking through the angel. This is He Risen as He said He would. It is impossible not to listen to one risen from the dead. We must rush and return to where and when we have always thought we might have first fallen in love with Him. We will find out again and again: He does not deceive; He is Risen!
Let’s harken to the excited call to Mary the Mother of Christ, our Mother, Queen of Heaven: REJOICE!
V. Regina caeli, laetare, alleluia.
R. Quia quem meruisti portare, alleluia.
V. Resurrexit, sicut dixit, alleluia.
R. Ora pro nobis Deum, alleluia.
V. Gaude et laetare, Virgo Maria, alleluia.
R. Quia surrexit Dominus vere, alleluia.
Deus, qui per resurrectionem Filii tui, Domini nostri Iesu Christi, mundum laetificare dignatus es: praesta, quaesumus; ut per eius Genetricem Virginem Mariam, perpetuae capiamus gaudia vitae. Per eundem Christum Dominum nostrum.
V. Queen of Heaven, rejoice, alleluia.
R. For He whom you did merit to bear, alleluia.
V. Has risen, as he said, alleluia.
R. Pray for us to God, alleluia.
V. Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary, alleluia.
R. For the Lord has truly risen, alleluia.
Let us pray.
O God, who gave joy to the world through the resurrection of Thy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, grant we beseech Thee, that through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, His Mother, we may obtain the joys of everlasting life. Through the same Christ our Lord.
HAPPY AND BLESSED EASTER TO ALL!