Monday, April 13, 2009

Go Tell My Brothers To Go To Galilee, And They Will See Me There.

Mt 28:8-15
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 guard 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.

Today, we read about Mary Magdalen and “the other Mary” the wife of Cleophas and mother of James , a story told only in the Gospel of Matthew. One commentator, John Reilly by name, suggests that Matthew included this episode to justify the truth of the empty tomb against the rumors that raced about the city of Jerusalem early in the week following the crucifixion, death and burial of Jesus.

Still, the story raises more questions than it resolves. Why would both Pilate, the Roman Governor accept the story that the disciples of Jesus broke the seal, moved the stone, and removed the body of Jesus while the guards were all asleep? A military prison guard, then and now, would be court-martialed for sleeping on duty. If the prisoner escaped while they were all asleep, they would be subject to capital punishment: in our day, a firing squad; in those days, beheading, for the officers; crucifixion, for the troopers.

And another question: In the culture of those times, in that place, the testimony of women was not accepted as valid. Yet in all four gospels, that Magdalene woman is met at the tomb by an angel who announces to her that Jesus has been raised, and in three of these accounts, Jesus appears and speaks to her one-on-one. It is she who goes into the city and tells the disciples, hiding out in the upper room, that Jesus has been raised from the dead, and wants to meet them in Galilee. Whereupon they all decide to remain safely where they’re at, until Jesus visits them and brings them back to Galilee, where he had found them in the first place.

It won’t be until a month and a half from now, after the Holy Spirit has come, that Peter and the other apostles will have the gumption to stand in the public square and preach to the people of Jerusalem, as we see in today’s First Reading.

Acts 2:14, 22-33
On the day of Pentecost, Peter stood up with the Eleven,
raised his voice, and proclaimed:
"You who are Jews, indeed all of you staying in Jerusalem.
Let this be known to you, and listen to my words.
"You who are children of Israel, hear these words.
Jesus the Nazorean was a man commended to you by God
with mighty deeds, wonders, and signs,
which God worked through him in your midst, as you yourselves know.
This man, delivered up by the set plan and foreknowledge of God,
you killed, using lawless men to crucify him.
But God raised him up, releasing him from the throes of death,
because it was impossible for him to be held by it.
For David says of him:
I saw the Lord ever before me,
with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed.
Therefore my heart has been glad and my tongue has exulted;
my flesh, too, will dwell in hope,
because you will not abandon my soul to the nether world,
nor will you suffer your holy one to see corruption.
You have made known to me the paths of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence. (Psalm 16)

My brothers, one can confidently say to you
about the patriarch David that he died and was buried,
and his tomb is in our midst to this day.
But since he was a prophet and knew that God had sworn an oath to him
that he would set one of his descendants upon his throne,
he foresaw and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ,
that neither was he abandoned to the netherworld
nor did his flesh see corruption.
God raised this Jesus;
of this we are all witnesses.
Exalted at the right hand of God,
he poured forth the promise of the Holy Spirit
that he received from the Father, as you both see and hear."

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