Do Not Be Afraid

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Holy Saturday At the Easter Vigil in the Holy Night of Easter

Matthew 28:1-10

After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. 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. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ Behold, I have told you.” Then they went away quickly from the tomb, fearful yet overjoyed, and ran to announce this to his disciples. And behold, Jesus met them on their way and greeted them. They approached, embraced his feet, and did him homage. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”

Opening Prayer: Jesus, like the women in today’s reading, I can be both fearful and overjoyed in this life of faith. Please increase my faith so that I can bring you my fears.

Encountering Christ:

  1. Easter People: On this Holy Saturday, we wait with prayerful perseverance and hope during these dark hours while we remember Christ in the tomb. But a new day is about to dawn. St. John Paul II said, “Do not abandon yourself to despair. We are Easter people and Alleluia is our song.” As Easter people, hope is our Christian identity. We are beloved sons and daughters of God who are called to believe that Christ is truly risen–to feel it deep in our bones–and then live this truth.
  2.  Do Not Be Afraid: The first disciples did not have the gift of hindsight, as we do. Jesus said that he would rise again (Mark 9:31), but they had to live through his Crucifixion and those deathly quiet hours afterward without knowing what would happen next and armed with only their faith. When the women came to see the tomb, they must have been wondering and perhaps a little afraid of what they would find. The first words we hear from both the angel and from the resurrected Christ are, “Do not be afraid.” As Christians, we can be unafraid of death because we stand firm in our faith that Christ has won the victory for us. Jesus told John, “Do not be afraid. I am…the one who lives. Once I was dead, but now I am alive forever and ever” (Revelation 1:17-18). May we, like the women, hear those words of comfort from our King, the One who lived and died for us. May we go to see Christ’s tomb in the dark of the Easter Vigil as hopeful disciples who firmly believe that he lives.
  3. Humble Worship: “How beautiful are the feet upon the mountains of the one bringing good news” (Isaiah 52:7). Scripture tells us that St. Mary Magdalene had a special devotion to Christ’s precious feet. She wept over and anointed his feet in contrition for her sins (Luke 7:37-38). She stood courageously at the foot of his cross (John 19:25). What a humble devotion, to worship at the feet of Our Lord. In this story, we hear how St. Mary Magdalene again worshiped at his feet: “They approached, embraced his feet, and did him homage” (Mark 28:9). May we humbly worship our Lord as St. Mary Magdalene did.

Conversing with Christ: Dear Jesus, I want to possess an unshakable faith, but I can be so easily shaken. Doubts creep in, and I find it difficult to trust in your providence. Root me in my identity as your beloved child, and then grant me the virtues I need to live out of this place of dignity. Help me proclaim like Isaiah, “God indeed is my salvation; I am confident and unafraid” (Isaiah 12:2).

Resolution: Lord, today by your grace, I will examine my fears and bring them to you so that you might redeem them.

For Further Reflection: Read this article from the National Catholic Reporter: We Are An Easter People.

Written by Carey Boyzuck

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