And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, approached, rolled back the stone, and sat upon it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing was white as snow. The guards were shaken with fear of him and became like dead men. Then the angel said to the women in reply, “Do not be afraid! I know that you are seeking Jesus the crucified. He is not here, for he has been raised just as he said. Mt 26:2-6
When I first entered St. Vincent’s Seminary one of the first monks I met was Fr. Tom Hart, O.S.B. He was my academic advisors and one of my professors. Fr. Tom is very funny and engaging. He would often greet the class with a booming, “Citizens of Earth!” which was our cue to get ready for the lecture. If you popped into his office to chat, he would ask. “What’s going on in your realm of reality”?
Today we celebrate the realist of realities, The Resurrection of Christ. Certainly, a reality that is shrouded in mystery and because of the centuries that have passed has become a distant reality but still real nonetheless. In our current reality, we find ourselves cut off from family, friends and fellow parishioners. We find ourselves cut off from the Eucharist, which is THE remedy to help us deal with the cruelties of reality. Who would have thought that this would become our reality? The pandemic that has stricken our world has become a reality that we are all learning to cope with. But our circumstances and experiences will help us adapt to the situation differently. Our experiences are vastly different, but we share the same reality.
What an experience, what a dose of reality Mary Magdalene and the other Mary encountered when they went to the tomb early in the morning to pay tribute to our Lord’s sacred body. They brought the oils and perfumes that they planned on placing on his beaten and bruised body. They came to offer Him their last act of love. But as the women arrived, the earth quaked, and the angel of God appeared to them.
As they left, Scripture says they then left the tomb quickly, “fearful yet overjoyed.” All they could think about was telling the other disciples of their encounter when another incredible joy befell them. Jesus Himself met them on the way. In their amazement, the women fell at His feet and did Him homage. Not the homage they planned on doing to a dead body, but the homage due to a risen Savior. They worshipped Him. Jesus then spoke: “Do not be afraid. Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me” (Mt 28:10).
Fear is the greatest tool that the devil will use against us. The devil wants us to become frozen in fear. Just think if Mary Magdalene and the other Mary remained fearful and refused to go and tell the other disciples that the Resurrection was real?
It was true. All that they had hoped for came true. They saw Jesus arrested. They saw Him beaten. They saw Him falsely accused. They saw Him sentenced to death. And they saw Him die. Now for the miracle of miracles, they saw their Savior alive. Every hope that they had come true. Everything came to fruition at that moment. All that was lost was restored a hundredfold. And why were all their dreams realized? Why had everything come to fruition? Why had all that they had lost and loved been restored? Because they hoped only in Jesus!
The Resurrection of Christ is not merely an event that took place long ago. It’s an event that continues to take place when we patiently walk with our Lord through the trials, crosses, and sufferings of life, with hope and trust in His power to do all good things. Evil always loses in the end when we remain steadfast in our hope in Him.
As we celebrate the reality of the Resurrection of Christ, ponder the promise He has spoken to you. If you have surrendered all to Him and died to the world of sin, keep your eyes now on the Resurrection. Have hope in Him and in His power to breathe new life into your heaviest cross.
Sometimes we have hope in our ideas of the Resurrection. We ask for some hope to come true because we think it is what we need. But the Resurrection of Christ should teach us that His plan for a new life for each one of us is far superior to what we could ever imagine. Do you believe that? Do you maintain your hope in Christ even when all seems lost?
Reflect, today, upon the unfathomable plan that God has for your life. Know that if you remain faithful until the end, our Lord will bring forth greater joys in your life, than you could ever think possible. It may not happen according to your schedule or your wishes, but it will happen in accordance with His perfect divine will. Do not doubt. Do not be afraid. Have hope and trust, and anticipate the moments when the power of the Resurrection brings forth the greatest joys you could ever imagine.
Alleluia, Christ is risen!! Indeed He is risen!!
Rev. Fr. Douglas A. Ondeck