Matthew’s account of the Resurrection, used at the vigil Mass is filled with eschatological drama. There was a great earthquake, an angel of God, whose gleaming appearance was like lightning, descended and rolled back the stone. The guards were shaken and appeared like dead men. And the women were there to witness it all.
Some of these were the same women who were looking on when Jesus gave up his spirit, and the earth quaked, the rocks split and the tombs were opened.
Such a dramatic setting is fitting for the Resurrection story. For resurrection is a no ordinary event. Resurrection is the unexpected. It is the giving back of something that is gone, the putting back of life where it has vanished. Resurrection is not an evolution. It is the miraculous bursting of a life when life is gone. It is not the springtime growth, which has slumbered under winter’s cozy comforter. Resurrection is something different.
Resurrection is the unexplained. It is the mystery that God can put right back something that to our mortal sight and scientific reasoning seemed to have ended, disappeared. It is God’s ability to disturb the natural order, raising up that which is going down, turning the dark to light and the light to dark, blossoming the desert, and drying up the swamp. It is the unexpected turn in the expected pattern of the road.
Resurrection does not always look like Easter Alleluias. For all the sudden turnings round of life are not in tango rhythm. Many are found when the dance abruptly changes to a dirge, the road stops short on the edge of a precipice. These are the at-first unwelcome surprises that hand us, in the midst of pain, a resurrection moment.
It was in such a moment, the end of the road moment, the entombed experience, that Jesus burst forth into life, a miracle of God, the total unexpected twist in the road of desolation, the mode of grief. We do not evolve into our resurrected time and times, but only by the miracle of God, and our grasping with open hands the new life offered in the unexpected, sad or glad, can we rise as Jesus rose. He was so attuned to God in life, so open to the God-life in his life, that he could spring into new life, a new existence taken from the one form that seemed dead.
And the women witnessed this. The women came in grief at the dawn of the day. They came to minister to death. And they behold the bursting forth of life. They angel knew why they had come, calmed their fears, and commissioned them to tell the disciples that Jesus was going to Galilee. Jesus met them on the way, greets them with peace, and repeats the commission. This is another unexpected turn in the expected pattern of the road. Those who could come to minister to death are now propelled into the new role of witnessing to life.
Elizabeth Ferguson, OP