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Fear and Joy
Monday in the Octave of Easter
Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went away quickly from the tomb, fearful yet overjoyed, and ran to announce the news 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.” While they were going, some of the guards went into the city and told the chief priests all that had happened. The chief priests assembled with the elders and took counsel; then they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him while we were asleep.’ And if this gets to the ears of the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” The soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has circulated among the Jews to the present day.
Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, today we celebrate your Resurrection, the greatest event in history, the reality that gives us hope and on which all of our faith in you is founded. I base my life on the fact that you are risen from the dead. I believe that your life is already available to me, that you are sharing it with me. It is the source of immense joy in my everyday life. Help me to connect with that joy today. Help me to look at you with eyes of faith and to see you as these women did on their way back from the tomb.
- Fearful Yet Overjoyed: It’s helpful for us to remember that the experience of the Resurrection was never 100% joyful for any of those who loved Jesus! They all felt a mix of emotions—uncertainty, confusion, doubt, fear. The resurrected Christ met these two Marys on their way, just as they were, with emotions that they couldn’t control, in the truth of their human situation. He wants to meet us today as well, just as we are. We trust that one day, our experience of the Lord’s risen body in Heaven will be perfect, as it should be, with no fear or confusion on our part. Today, however, we meet Jesus in faith, and carry the burden of our mixed emotions. May these succinct words of the evangelist, “fearful yet overjoyed,” express the reality of the Resurrection as we experience it this Easter Monday.
- The Encounter: “Jesus met them on the way and greeted them.” The women approached him and embraced his feet, relating to him in a different way than they had before. Their relationship with Jesus had changed because, by the fact of his Resurrection, they now saw him as their Lord and their God. They expressed their profound respect for his majesty. “They did him homage.” May we bow before Christ in our heart and adore him, overcome by the Spirit-inspired gift of fear of the Lord—the gift “that confirms the virtue of hope and inspires a person with profound respect for the majesty of God” (CatholicCulture.org).
- The Lie: In the second part of today’s Gospel, the guards went to tell the chief priests all that had happened. The chief priests were the first to hear an eyewitness account of the miracles that took place around the tomb. They were unmoved. They remain a symbol of all the faithless who reject Jesus because of stubbornness and hardness of heart. We pray for the grace to surrender ourselves to Christ, and embrace the truth of the Resurrection. We also pray for the grace to be convinced witnesses, to be able to win others over with our joy and our charity so they may also accept the Risen Lord as their Lord.
Conversing with Christ: Jesus, help me to let your risen power overcome whatever is hardened in me. I bring to you my fears and doubts, all that I am feeling. Heal me, please. I adore you as God, Lord, and King, and I invite you to reign in my life. Help me also to be one of the witnesses whose testimony can win others over to you.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will speak to a friend about you in some courageous and creative way.
For Further Reflection: Pope Benedict reflects on the Resurrection as an event and not just speculation or a mystical experience.
Fr. Adam Zettel, LC, was ordained in 2017 and worked for three years as a high school chaplain in Dallas, Texas. Now he resides in Oakville, Ontario, serving youth and young adults.