Monday within the Octave of Easter
(Acts 2:24.22-23; Matthew 28:8-15)
Of all the evangelists Matthew is most cynical toward the Jews. He alone pictures Jewish leaders scheming with Judas to arrest Jesus. Likewise, he alone records the Jewish people saying that Jesus’ blood should fall on them and their children. The cynicism toward the Jews concludes in today’s gospel. Matthew alone explains the natural skepticism that arises with the report of a dead person’s coming to life by describing the Jewish authorities bribing the Roman soldiers and promulgating a lie.
Scholars attribute such negativity in Matthew (and John) to the persecution that Christians were experiencing at the hand of Jewish leaders at the time of his writing. Jewish-Christians were being purged from synagogues as Jewish leaders were reforming the practice of their faith with the destruction of the Jerusalem temple. Saying that an evangelist read back into the account of Jesus’ life events which reflect his own times does not undercut the authority of Scripture. Rather it should help Christians to understand and live their faith.
We should not doubt the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. That Jesus appeared to his disciples and to Paul in a glorified body after he died is firmly attested to in Scripture. His resurrection and visitations have precipitated the coming of the Holy Spirit upon us. The Spirit enables us to accept the quite implausible occurrence of the resurrection so that we too hope to experience it at the end of time. The same Spirit moves us to search for the truth of all matters so that our testimony to the resurrection of Jesus has credibility.