Great & Holy Saturday
Today, on Great and Holy Saturday, we hear how the Myrrhbearing women went to the tomb early in the morning to anoint Jesus’ body, only to encounter an earthquake and an angel telling them that He had risen and had gone before them to Galilee. They were naturally astonished, by the angel told them not to be afraid but to go and tell the apostles that Jesus Christ had risen from the dead. And then, on their way, they encountered Jesus Himself.
This news of the resurrection of Christ is indeed ‘a great earthquake’ and it is really beyond our comprehension. Yet these women’s devotion to Christ had brought them to the tomb in the early hours of the morning. They had followed Him closely during His passion and were now keeping watch with Him, intending to anoint His body. And, as a result of this faithfulness, this keeping vigil with the Lord they loved, they were to be the first to encounter the marvel of His Resurrection. Saint Peter Chrysologus writes,
An angel descended and rolled back the stone. He did not roll back the stone to provide a way of escape for the Lord but to show the world that the Lord had already risen. He rolled back the stone to help his fellow servants believe, not to help the Lord rise from the dead. He rolled back the stone for the sake of faith, because it had been rolled over the tomb for the sake of unbelief. He rolled back the stone so that He who took death captive might hold the title of Life. Pray, brothers, that the angel would descend now and roll away all the hardness of our hearts and open up our closed senses and declare to our minds that Christ has risen, for just as the heart in which Christ lives and reigns is heaven, so also the heart in which Christ remains dead and buried is a grave. May it be believed that just as He died, so was He transformed. Christ the man suffered, died and was buried; as God He lives, reigns, is and will be forever.
The Holy Gospel according to Saint Matthew 28:1-20:
After the sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the sepulcher. And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone, and sat upon it. His appearance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. Lo, I have told you.” So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Hail!” And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”
While they were going, behold, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests all that had taken place. And when they had assembled with the elders and taken counsel, they gave a sum of money to the soldiers and said, “Tell people, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ And if this comes to the governor’s ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” So they took the money and did as they were directed; and this story has been spread among the Jews to this day.
Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age. Amen.”