Good morning, happy Monday, and many blessings.
In today’s Gospel (Matthew 28:8-15) we learn that the women who had come to the tomb early on Sunday morning to embalm the dead body of Jesus were amazed to find the stone rolled back from the entrance and the tomb empty. Their reactions are a mixture of anxiety and joy. They are anxious that the body may have been stolen; but there is also an expectant joy. Could it be that he is alive? We may contrast that with Mark where he tells us that the women in their fear “said nothing to anyone”.
And, while still wondering what could have happened, they run to tell the “good news” (obviously they were having optimistic thoughts) to tell the disciples when they ran into Jesus who gave them the Easter greeting of “Peace!” (Shalom).
As they cling to Jesus’ feet (like Mary Magdalene in John’s gospel, they do not want to lose him again), they are told not to be afraid, an admonition that will be heard frequently during these days, but to go to the disciples and instruct them to go to Galilee where they will see Jesus.
Men may find this to be a sobering gospel. Throughout his ministry Jesus picks out women as the bearers of hope. Think of Mary at Cana, hoping to save a wedding feast from disaster; or the Samaritan woman at the well of Jacob, sensing the hope of living water; or Magdalene weeping at Jesus' feet, hoping for a love that would last longer than one night. On this Sunday morning the men are huddled in the Upper Room, sleeping off the nervous exhaustion of Good Friday -- though they had been in hiding while the women were on Golgotha. But on Sunday morning the women are up early, practical, looking after the grave, only to find themselves messengers of hope and new life.
There is no doubt that we men and women still need to learn how to work together, recognizing each other's gifts, complementary and not contentious. Above all, like Jesus we must eliminate the sins of male supremacy and subordination of women.
It is unfortunate that this increasing invisibility of women has become a source of contention within the Church. It has led to anger and frustration and some very silly things being said and done on both sides. Male or female, Christ is our model. There can be no other. The Resurrection means that there is now no male, no female, no slave, no free, no Jew, no gentile, we are all one in Christ, as St Paul says. They are part of the mission of the whole Church to proclaim Christ, the whole Christ.
This morning, as we think about those women meeting Jesus as they come away from the tomb, it may be helpful to consider the obvious. They did not find Jesus where they expected to find him. They found him — or rather, he found them — where they did not expect, as they were coming away, disappointed at not being able to fulfil the task they had laid upon themselves. Sometimes we have to learn that what we think is important isn’t; that what God wills is ultimately best for us all; and that we shall meet God at a time and place of his choosing, not ours. We just have to be ready — and that is undoubtedly the hardest task of all.