Homily for Easter Vigil 2002
Year A - Mt. 28:1-10


by

Father Daniel Meynen
 
 

"Now after the sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the sepulchre. And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone, and sat upon it. His appearance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, 'Do not be afraid; for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. Lo, I have told you.'


"So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. And behold, Jesus met them and said, 'Hail!' And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, 'Do not be afraid; go and tell my brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.' "





Homily:


"Now after the sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the sepulchre."


Jesus is risen! Alleluia! Alleluia! On this unique night, unique news rings out: Jesus is risen! Indeed, who announces this news to the entire world if not the one Church of Jesus Christ the Son of God? The Christians of the world announce each Sunday, and especially today, that Christ, the Savior of men, is risen from the dead!


What unique news! There is no other news like it in the entire universe! All the peoples in the world perform ceremonies for their dead and, if they preserve the bodies of their dead, they prepare them for burial. This was done by the holy women, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, who went to Jesus' tomb in order to complete the preparations they wanted to lavish upon the body of Jesus, their very dear friend...


Death strikes all peoples and all individuals: none have escaped its power ever since the original sin, that of our first parents Adam and Eve, entered into the world. But since the resurrection of Jesus, death, which still exists, is vanquished! Death still strikes us, but its power is limited to time: soon, following Jesus, all who are dead in Christ will be resurrected for eternal Life!


"And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone, and sat upon it. His appearance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, 'Do not be afraid; for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay."


When the angel of the Lord appeared in order to roll away the stone before the tomb, Jesus had already been resurrected. For in this lies the proof that Jesus was truly resurrected of himself, without the help of another person present in the tomb with him. Similarly, in this lies the proof that no one had come to take away the body of Jesus in order to induce others believe in his resurrection. The guards are there: they attested to the fact that the tomb had always remained closed, until after the resurrection of the Lord!


Saint Matthew notes that the angel's appearance was "like lightning". This is one of the signs of the resurrection. Indeed, previously, speaking of the apparition of the risen Jesus on his return to earth, Saint Matthew wrote: "For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of man." (Mt. 24:27) Is this not a grandiose and magnificent sign, one that demonstrates well the Omnipotence of God through a natural phenomenon of great intensity!


But the angel's discourse is even more important than his outward appearance. For he says: "Do not be afraid; for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has risen, as he said." Not only is Jesus risen, but he had announced it himself (cf., among others, Mt. 16:21)! So why be afraid? Everything that happens today is something that you already knew would take place, or it is something you would have known if you had added faith to what Jesus had said...


" 'Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him.' "


"He is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him." Why Galilee? The answer is simple: all that concerns the New Law, the Law of Life, was accomplished in Galilee (cf. Mt. 4:14-16), while all that concerns the Old Law, such as the death of Jesus, took place in Judaea. It was in Nazareth, in Galilee, that the Word of Life was made flesh; it was in Cana, in Galilee, that Jesus performed his first miracle; it was on Mount Tabor, in Galilee, that Jesus was transfigured before his disciple Simon, who had become Peter, in Galilee...


"So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. And behold, Jesus met them and said, 'Hail!' And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, 'Do not be afraid; go and tell my brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.' "


If Jesus came to establish the New Law of Love and of Life in God, he did not, however, come to abolish the Old Law: he came to fulfill it. So, before definitively going to Galilee, Jesus wanted to appear first in Judaea, in Jerusalem. This is why he appears to these women, who had come to prepare his body: "And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him."


Obviously, if Jesus appeared to these women, he did not fail to appear first, and especially, to the Woman among women: the Virgin Mary, his loving Mother, She who was there at the foot of the Cross, caught up in the greatest of sufferings... We know nothing of this apparition of Jesus to his Mother. But does it concern us? Jesus and Mary have a filial relation between them that concerns but the two of them alone... Let it suffice us to think that this apparition truly took place: any self-respecting son would have had the same attitude toward his mother...


And what about us? Do we not have the right to an apparition of the risen Jesus? Of course we do! But ever since Jesus has returned to Heaven, Jesus appears in a different way: he asks that we believe in him! Faith: this is our apparition of the risen Jesus! Let us believe in Jesus the Savior of men! Let us receive him in the Eucharist of this Easter night! And our life will be transformed! In Jesus! Through Mary!



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