Monday in the Octave of Easter
(Acts 2:24.22-23; Matthew 28:8-15)
The world today is in desperate need of good news. We have been in suspense over the virus for a month now. Our spirits require word of a really positive development to emerge from worry. What if there was something good to report like a cure COVID-19, but people tried to suppress it? Perhaps pride or rebelliousness would move them not to share this hope-builder with others. Would it not be a great offense to humanity? This is the kind of travesty that Matthew tries to portray in today’s gospel.
Jesus meets the two Marys as they run in fearful joy from his former tomb. He reiterates to them the mandate to tell his disciples about his resurrection. The news is so overwhelming that he no longer even calls them disciples. The grace of the resurrection has forgiven their cowardice so that he calls them “brothers.” All can rejoice in what God has done. However, the chief priests and elders of the people do not want the good news to be heard. They fear losing their hold on the people. So they try to suppress the news of the resurrection by bribing the guards of the tomb to tell another story.
To be fair to the Jews of Jesus’ time and today this tale of overt suppression of the truth probably did not occur as Matthew reports. It is only attested in his gospel and may be understood in the context of the extreme Jewish-Christian animosity at the time of its writing. Still people through the ages not wanting to believe in the resurrection have perpetuated the story. On the other hand, Jesus and his disciples desire the resurrection to be preached with all its promise. It makes our days brighter and our hopes for eternal life more secure.