Paschal Vigil – 16 April 2017
Gospel: Matthew 28:1-10
We meet Jesus on the journey
Life is a journey. Perhaps that is an over-used expression, but it’s true. We don’t have to be physically moving to be on this journey because circumstances and events around us are always changing and challenging us. The journey through the season of Lent and in particular the events of Palm Sunday and Holy Week challenge us to journey with Jesus through his passion and death into his resurrection.
The passage from St Matthew’s Gospel that is read at the Paschal Vigil tells the story of Mary of Magdala and the other Mary going to the tomb at dawn, on the first day of the week – two new beginnings, early morning and the start of the week. Yet the place they are going to was surely full of painful memories from the previous few days. On their arrival at the tomb there is a violent earthquake – reminiscent of the earthquake at the moment that Jesus died. The angel that appears has a radiant face and is dressed in dazzling white – like Jesus, Moses and Elijah in the story of the Transfiguration.
The angel gives the women the news that Jesus has risen, invites them to witness the empty tomb, and instructs them to go and tell the disciples. It must have been overwhelming for them to hear all this so at once. It is not recorded that the women said anything but only that they ran to tell the disciples and running away from the tomb they met Jesus.
I love that image of the women running away from the tomb – it is as if in running away from death and the scene of burial that the women hasten their meeting with Jesus. And isn’t that what the resurrection is all about – turning our back on the things that take away our life and running towards Jesus. And in their running away from the tomb Jesus comes to meet them – just as he comes to meet us when we turn from death to life.
Jesus gives a message to the women for the disciples, but it is meant for us too. He tells them not to be afraid, to start out on a journey and that he will meet them there. So the Christian Life is a journey towards the risen Jesus – safe travelling!
Fr Richard Purcell ocso