Chinese Mass：Every Sunday 2:15 p.m.
Our Lady of the Assumption RC Church, Assumption Priory, Victoria Park Square, Bethnal Green E2 9PB (map)
After Mass you are welcome to join the community for a tea gathering
Bible study/sharing every Saturday (2:00-4:00 p.m.) at Notre Dame De France Church, 5 Leicester Place WC2H 7BX (near See Woo Chinese Supermarket, Leicester Square tube station)
Talk and discussion meeting First Monday of every month (4:00-6:00 p.m.) at Notre Dame De France Church
[Acts 10:34, 37-43; Ps.117; Col.3:1-4 / 1Cor.5:6-8;Jn.20:1-9 / Mt.26:14-27:66 / Lk.24:13-35]
[Our reflection today is on the gospel of Matthew 26:14-27]
Matthew’s way of telling us about the resurrection is different from the others. In today’s gospel he tells us what happened after the Sabbath, and towards dawn on the first day of the week. Everything seems to be imbued with ‘newness’: new week, new day…
We have these two women, two Marys who at an early hour of the day, they are heading for the place where Jesus was put to rest. They were visiting the sepulchre. At this point the gospel writer tells us what the women saw and what happened. One notices that Matthew does not tell us what happened at the resurrection and how it took place, how Jesus returned back to life. That is a mystery, and so it is going to remain. Yet, he tells us what happened outside the tomb and the reaction that this had on the women that were going to the sepulchre and on the guards of the tomb.
We are told: “… all at once there was a violent earthquake, for the angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled away the stone and sat on it. His face was like lightning, his robe white as snow”. There seems to have been a lot of action taking place at the same time. We have the violent earthquake and at the same time the moving of the stone, which, although it is not said, one imagines that it is the stone closing the entrance to the tomb. According to the gospel writer, the stone was moved not because of the earthquake, but by an “angel of the Lord descending from heaven”. We are told something more about this angel. He sat on the stone that he had rolled. He was not in a hurry. He wanted to take his time. As if he wanted them to look at him and observe his face, which “was like lightning” and his robe, which was “white as snow”. This reminds us of what happened in the transfiguration story, when Jesus’ face was like lightning and his cloths were as white as snow. There it was Jesus, here, it is the angel of the Lord. Could this be Jesus himself which they did not recognise? It might be, but the gospel writer says that it was the angel of the Lord and a messenger from God, who came with all his splendour. Someone had to give the message that Jesus is risen, and therefore it had to be an angel. Furthermore, they could not recognise him, even if he was Jesus himself, because of the face ‘like lightning’ and the robe ‘white as snow’. So keeping to what the gospel writer says, these women and guards, saw an angel of the Lord in front of them.
The reaction to all this was that those who have seen were all frightened. We are told that “The guards were so shaken, so frightened of him, that they were like dead men”. These men, who were their because they were told to, were shaken and ‘like dead men’. In contrast, the women, the two Marys, who were frightened in the same manner as the men, if not more, since they were there to visit the sepulchre, and therefore they were there of their own free will, they were told not to be afraid… And they were also told the news that “Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said he would…” And after being invited to witness with their own eyes that the place was empty, they were invited to take the news to the ‘disciples’ that “Jesus has risen from the dead”, that “he is going before them to Galilee” and that “they will see him there”. In other words, he is saying that JESUS IS ALIVE and HE WANTS TO MEET THEM!
We are told that the women were filled with awe and great joy and ran to tell the disciples. They were obedient to the words of the angel of the Lord and were ready to do what he said… They BELIEVED! And in doing so, they had the experience of meeting the risen Jesus. The one who was dead, was now alive, in front of them, greeting them… Who knows what they were passing through? Surely they were still afraid because when they came up to him and, falling down before him, they clasped his feet. Again he told them not to be afraid. And it seems that Jesus was eager to meet his disciples because he insisted on the women to go and tell ‘the brothers that they must leave for Galilee’ where they will meet him!
Jesus is risen and alive, where is our appointment to meet with him going to take place?
“Lord, give us the gift of faith so we can believe the word that was given to us and accept him as our Lord and saviour, who died for our own sins, but is now living amongst us through the resurrection. Thank you Lord!”
Fr. Jesmond Pawley, OFM Conv.
(Permission to reproduce on this site by Fr. Jesmond, St. Patrick’s RC Church, Waterloo http://www.stpatrickwaterloo.org.uk/ )