Business as usual? Monday within the Easter Octave – Acts 2:14,22-23/Matthew 28:8-15

Business as usual? Monday within the Easter Octave – Acts 2:14,22-23/Matthew 28:8-15

Read also based on the first reading. 

The Easter narrative in the Gospel of Mark and Matthew are brief; just thirteen and fifteen verses. Compare that to Luke and John, which tell us so much more. The Gospel of today, taken from Matthew’s Gospel, first tells us of the attitude that Easter could have on us. It could bring about belief or disbelief. It then goes on to tell us of the acts that are fuelled by those attitudes; it tells us of two sets of instructions; that of the Lord to the women and then those of the Chief priest to the soldiers.

Jesus encounters the women in their panic and fear. The angel (verse 5) sensing his dramatic entry, tells the women not to fear but obviously even the soft voice of this angel could not stop their hearts from pumping furiously. The Lord, on encountering the women reminds them once again not ‘to be afraid.’ The Easter proclamation is one that gives all those who are afraid, whatever that fear may be, the gift of peace in the storm. So, stop the fear, the Lord is near!

But the encounter with the women was also ‘sudden.’ God does not give notice of his planned visits. He breaks into our lives ‘suddenly;’ perhaps at a parish mission, in moments of prayer or perhaps when we are rushing like the women were. He breaks into our world ‘suddenly’ but also with a ‘greeting.’ Scripture tells us that on encountering the women he greets them. Think about it, the first Easter Greeting was not spoken to commemorate an event, the first Easter Greeting was made by the one who caused the event. I wonder what that first Easter greeting was? Was it just a hello? Was it a good morning? Was it a Praise the Lord or did the Lord say, “Happy Easter?” I think it does not matter what he said, what matters is that we recognise that he was the first one to greet us all on Easter Sunday.

The Lord then gave the women a message and this message comes as a surprise to those who read deeper into this text. The Lord asked the women to ‘go and tell his brothers to go to Galilee, where they will see him.’ This line struck me very powerfully because I recognized in this text the first message of forgiveness after the resurrection. Forgiveness was central to the life of Jesus; so much so that one of his last words on the cross was, “father forgive them.” Now, after the resurrection the first act is one of forgiveness even though he does not say it explicitly.

Let’s put this in perspective. He addresses his disciples as “brothers.” These are the same “brothers” who a page and a day earlier denied him, betrayed him and fled from him. Imagine you and me speaking of those who abandoned us in the moment of our need. I am certain that “brothers” would not be the first words that we might use; a confession would be required to ease the burden of guilt that would result from the greeting we would have for those who betrayed and denied us. Yet, Jesus calls them ‘brothers’, making his first act after the resurrection one of love and forgiveness. Easter calls us to peace but it also calls us to forgiveness.

While Christ had a message for his brothers, another message was being passed on by none other than the highest religious leader in Judaism; the Chief Priest was now sanctioning a lie to be spread. Sin and Satan are not far away because Easter Sunday has dawned! Caiaphas tells the soldiers, “You must say, his disciples came by night and stole him away while we were at sleep.” The chief priest and his cronies remind me of those who have no shame. They had killed an innocent man and had put to death the author of life. The centurion’s testimony at the foot of the cross did not move their heart nor did the tearing of the veil of the temple bring repentance. This could have been a moment of redemption but having chosen the path to hell, they walked even more resolutely into its raging fires.

The Chief Priest and the religious authorities had now written the manual on deceit and practiced to perfection one more dirty trick which they use for the second time in a couple of days. Remember, they bought Judas with silver and having learnt how easy that was they now buy the Roman guards. This time though, it was not just 40 pieces of silver. Scripture tells us that it was “a large sum of money.” (Verse 12).

Easter can be for us a moment of redemption and salvation or it could be business as usual.

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One thought on “Business as usual? Monday within the Easter Octave – Acts 2:14,22-23/Matthew 28:8-15”

  • Rightly said Fr. Warner, that Forgiveness is central to Jesus’ Life and at Easter celebration that marks His victory over darkness, sin and death it would be very appropriate to highlight HIS EMPOWERING FORGIVENESS in our Easter greetings which ( more often than not ) finds no mention of it.

    The FORTE of Jesus’ Forgiveness for his foes – is by any measure something that we all are always falling short of.

    Nonetheless, humans as we are and likely to be sin falling, we must always seek HIS HUMBLE and FORGIVING ways that is Spiritually empowering and rewarding enough to keep us feeling even physically positive and by an extension FIT ( as it happens when we have CONFESSED at the Confessional – but ofcourse with a CONTRITE HEART ).

    To those who find it Bizarre, they MUST TRY IT OUT..


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