Fearful Yet Overjoyed

They were “fearful yet overjoyed” (Matthew 28:8).  The women who went to the tomb of Jesus were not prepared for it to be empty. But it was!  Then they encountered the risen Lord.  He told them, “Do not be afraid. Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me” (Matthew 18:10).  With joy and confidence, they proclaimed his resurrection to the other disciples.

We are in the middle of the Octave of Easter, which began with the Easter Vigil and will end with vespers on Divine Mercy Sunday.  We have encountered Jesus in his Body and Blood and the washing of the feet on Holy Thursday.  We have walked with Jesus and embraced the cross on Good Friday.  We have welcomed new members into the Church at Easter through the Sacraments of Initiation.  Like the women who came to the tomb of Jesus, we are fearful yet overjoyed…and probably tired!

The gospels remind us that the first witnesses of Jesus’ resurrection were not the Eleven men he chose to be his apostles and closest disciples.  They were women.  We give thanks for those women and for the countless women today—the vast majority of regular church-goers throughout the world—who minister in the church in many, many different ways. 

Mary Magdalene and the other Mary demonstrate that the call to proclaim the gospel belongs to all of us.  Proclaiming the risen Christ can also fill us with joy and fear.  We rejoice that he is alive, but we fear that many still reject him or are indifferent.  We also fear that some will reject us. We fear that the work of proclaiming the Good News is too difficult.  In some parts of the world, as we witnessed so tragically in Sri Lanka on Sunday, it can even be deadly. 

Yet…Jesus is with us.  He has given us the power of the Holy Spirit.  As we enter the heart of the Octave of Easter, we trust in that power. Like those intrepid women who ran from the tomb upon discovering it empty and encountered the risen Lord, we resolve to proclaim him to others so that they, too, may encounter him. JC