“Do not be afraid.” These are the words of the angel at the tomb of the risen Jesus to Mary Magdalene and the other Mary as recorded in St. Matthew’s Gospel. Their initial fear vanished as the two women listened intently to the angel who declared to them: “He has been raised from the dead.” Barely given time to absorb these incredible words, they then received a commission from the angel: “Go quickly and tell his disciples.”
Their amazement doesn’t stop there. While the women were running to spread the good news, they meet Jesus himself who echoes the words spoken to them by the angel: “Do not be afraid.” Their joy must have been boundless as he urged them on to spread the word to his disciples.
In scores of languages spoken around the world, Christians have heard these same words proclaimed to them during the Easter Vigil. For nearly 2,000 years the Church has rejoiced with the two women. Their joy is our joy. Over and over again the Church exults in the Good News of salvation.
Easter is more than a celebration of the end of Lent. It marks the fulfillment of mankind’s deepest desire – to share in God’s eternal life.
No longer is there any reason for us to be afraid. Jesus vanquished fear by vanquishing death when he died on the cross and rose again. It is good and necessary for us to rejoice at Easter. Nothing should diminish our joy. However, like the women at the tomb who received the Good News, we, too, have also received a commission. As they were told to “Go tell his disciples,” so are we called to proclaim as well. The Good News must be shared with the world through our words and our actions.
Pope Francis declared last year to the world: “The Good News is no mere matter of words, but a testimony to unconditional and faithful love.” While we celebrate the feast of Easter once a year, we should live it in our hearts every day. May love and joy reign in your hearts this Easter season and always.
Most Reverend W. Francis Malooly
Bishop of Wilmington