Monday, April 5, 2010

This Jesus, Whom You Killed, God Has Raised Up; Of This We Are All Witnesses.

Monday in the Octave of Easter
Reading I
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.

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.”
+++ +++ +++ +++
Psalm 16
Keep me safe, O God; you are my hope.Keep me, O God, for in you I take refuge;
I say to the LORD, “My Lord are you.”
O LORD, my allotted portion and my cup,
you it is who hold fast my lot.
Keep me safe, O God; you are my hope.
I bless the LORD who counsels me;
even in the night my heart exhorts me.
I set the LORD ever before me;
with him at my right hand
I shall not be disturbed.
Keep me safe, O God; you are my hope.
Therefore my heart is glad and my soul rejoices,
my body, too, abides in confidence;
Because you will not abandon
my soul to the nether world,
nor will you suffer your faithful one
to undergo corruption.
Keep me safe, O God; you are my hope.
You will show me the path to life,
fullness of joys in your presence,
the delights at your right hand forever.
Keep me safe, O God; you are my hope
+++ +++ +++ +++
Matthew 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 day.
From the moment we are born, we are brought into a world of the unknowns - and fear becomes a part of our lives. Today's Gospel offers us two very different but very human looks at fear.
For Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, it is a fear of the unexpected and the unknown as they encounter an empty tomb. Just before this Gospel begins, the women are told by an angel, “Do not be afraid! I know that you are seeking Jesus the crucified.” They hurry away and their thoughts must been racing as they try to make sense of something incomprehensible. Jesus' body is gone? An angel has told them not to be afraid? What in the world has happened to Jesus?

And then he is there himself: Jesus is coming toward them, greeting them and we can imagine their stunned reaction and their joy as they embrace him. The first thing he says to them are the words we have heard him speak so many times, “Do not be afraid.” He is telling them to trust in him, to trust in this experience and in this unknown. Then he gives them the mission to spread the news and let others know that they will encounter him. Their fear has been turned to joy by the presence of Jesus in their lives.

The other fear is in the second part of the Gospel: while the Marys are hurrying back to the city, the guards, now wide awake and frightened, tell the chief priests what has happened. Jesus' body is gone! The elders and chief priests are also deeply afraid, but their fear is the kind all of us have rooted in the darker parts of our souls. Their fear is about losing power and control and having the people begin to believe in Jesus, this unlikely King of the Jews. This kind of fear, so tangled in our insecurities and lack of trust, creates more complexities. Lies are created, money exchanged. In case the soldiers fear for their jobs, they are reassured: “if this gets to the ears of the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.”

We can imagine the very different reactions to fear at the end of this story. Mary Magdalene running back, filled with joy, bursting with the incredible news for the Apostles: Jesus is alive! He is risen! In the face of their disbelief, her story of her encounter with Jesus will tumble out in joy and laughter and is rooted in the truth.

It is this same kind of knowing we see in the first reading as Peter feels the truth deep in his soul. It gives the timid and afraid leader the courage to fearlessly proclaim the story of the resurrection. Peter stands up and raises his voice loudly to tell to the crowd that God raised Jesus up, “releasing him from the throes of death.”

On the other side? The guards trudge home, puzzled, afraid of what they don't understand, afraid of being caught in this lie. The chief priests are soured with fears, lies and deceptions. Who among us can be trusted with the truth? Will the frightening truth leak out? Can we all keep our stories straight? What will we lose if people find out the real story? They move farther from the truth and the Good News of Jesus' life and resurrection.

Dear Jesus, on this great day after Easter, help us to hand our fears over to you. Today, in all of the terrors and anxieties that we face, both those that are real and those that are not, we ask for the light of your truth to shine in our hearts. Give us the sense of your presence deep in our hearts and fill us with your Spirit so that our hearts find a new courage to proclaim you with joy.

No comments: