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April 5, 1996     The Message
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The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana -| -| entary-- . The Resurrectnon of Jesus: A meeting with women Commentary for Sunday: 28:1.10 death on the cross, already a hint of better ! COme. The immediate se- esus' death on the cross is to his own resurrection. veil is torn in two from new covenant the words of Jesus at been initiated. L earthquake. In the Old were con- 'the day of the B(N FATHER DILGER COLUMNIST s kingdom on earth. Since of four earthquakes that occur only it is clear that Matthew intends to say era of the world is at hand. The third lraraediate sequel of Jesus' death: tombs a resurrection of the dead. There a resurrection of the dead in Matthew's earthquakes uakes in reference to the Old ,, so is this resurrection of the dead a theo- lhan a historical resurrection. All of to show that God was with has been vindicated. It is Jesus' personal vindi- )n. On the first day of the and another Mary, probably ,..COme to the tomb not to anoint the body la Mark and Luke, but just to see the two Women instead of Mark's three raore there is an earthquake, the final Matthean earthquake. This one seems to be caused by an angel who rolls back the stone sealing the tomb and takes a seat on the stone. Matthew describes the angel as the Book of Daniel describes the angel of that book. There are even guards at the tomb but only in Matthew. He will need them to prepare his readers for another story that only he in- cludes, the bribing of the guards by the religious leaders to cover up Jesus' resurrection. Matthew has to take a final stab at the religious leadership he considered responsi- ble for the death of Jesus and whose views his gospel had contested and whom he had again and again insulted and condemned. This would become his final opportunity. For this he will need the guarding soldiers who "out of fear of the angel trem- bled and became like dead men." The angel addresses the women with basically the same message she gave to the three women in the Gospel of Mark. They should not be frightened but are to tell Jesus' disciples that he is risen from the dead and will meet them in Galilee. In Mark this promise of a meeting was never fulfilled. To Luke and John Jesus meets his disciples not in Galilee but in Jerusalem. Only Matthew follows through on the promise of a meeting in Galilee, but later. The emphasis for now is on the two women. Just as in Mark, they react with fear to the angel and her message. This has disastrous consequences in Mark. They run away and report "nothing to any- one, for they were afraid." Thus ended the Gospel of Mark on a note of final abandonment of Jesus even by the women who alone were faithful to the bitter end, but no longer. Abandonment was now com- plete. Not so for Matthew. Mark had his theological reasons for closing his gospel as he did. Such rea- sons, whatever they were, do not bind Matthew. Al- though the two women are frightened, fear is not the only emotion they have. Matthew suddenly chops off the Marcan ending and writes: "They left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy and ran to tell his disciples." They fulfilled their commission of being the first to proclaim the resurrection of Jesus and did so very joyfully. Matthew even rewards them by a meeting with Jesus who personally com- missions them just as the angel had done. A frequently grim Matthew cannot repress the joy of those Christians about whom he writes fifty years after the event. Mark had intended the promise of a meeting in Galilee to be the promise of Jesus' return from glory and that it would soon occur. It did not. Matthew reinterprets the resurrec- tion of Jesus. It is an occasion of irrepressible joy. Jesus had indeed returned but not in the way Mark intended. It was a spiritual return, one that was to last until the end of time, no matter how long. Thus he will later portray Jesus not as ascending into heaven but as saying: "Behold, I am with you al- ways, until the end of time." That is the message of joy we want to draw from Matthew's story of the resurrection, an irrepressible joy at the presence of Jesus among us throughout life and in joyful faith that his resurrection will cause our own. Readings: Acts 10:34a,37.43; Colossians 3:1.4 or I Corinthians 5:6b.8. ge policy: n Anniversaries ge Publishes ld in or con- Diocese of 1.avited to sub- items about anniver- the fifitieth at the edi- tor's discretion. Health, family travel, and other extenuating circumstances may be consid- ered. Information and photographs for publication should be re- ceived at the Message 10 days prior to the date of requested publication. 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