…On the third day, I awoke just before dawn.
What do I hear? The birds are singing! Only then did I realize that even the birds were mute during the stony silence of the last days. I remained on my mat for a few minutes to enjoy a great symphony of delight as every bird and small animal in the land awakened together.
Without disturbing my cousins whom we stayed with, I tiptoed out and scurried to the house where Mary stayed. I asked if I could join her and the other women to bury my friend properly. We could only hope that wicked Pilate’s guards would move the stone for us.
Close to the tomb, the ground shook again. Not like three days ago, but enough to be noticed by everyone. We shared a frightened glance. Would another earthquake prevent us from giving him the respect and honor he deserved?
The pink arms of dawn embraced the stones and grass. Instinctively, as we approached the tomb, my hands shot up to shield my eyes from a blinding brilliance. On the ground were the guards. I think they’re dead! I squinted as we hastened on. Why is the great stone in front of the tomb moved away? My heart skipped a beat. Oh, no. Now what have they done to him?
All of this happened too fast to track. I no sooner panicked at the sight of the guards and the rock, when I realized the blazing light came from the stone itself. A tall figure of shimmery white body and golden face that radiated like lightning, sat on the rock. Glittery beams of light spilled from him onto the grass, and trees, and us. I gasped.
“Don’t be afraid,” he spoke with gentle power that arrested our rising fears. “He isn’t here. He has risen, just like he said. Go see for yourselves. And then go quickly to tell his disciples that He will meet them in Galilee.”
Our wide eyes blinked at each other. Tears sprang as we rushed to the tomb’s entrance and peered inside. And then we fell into each other’s arms when we saw the place where they had laid him. It was empty. Every part of me tingled with inexpressible awe. Even so, a bit of darkness threatened my renewed joy.
We turned to run, but stopped hard. Before us stood my best friend, my Lord. “Jesus,” I whispered as my heart leapt. With my friends, I dropped to my knees and kissed his feet.
He knew that though we believed, we held a bit of apprehension. “Don’t be afraid,” he comforted. “Now, go and tell my brothers that they will see me in Galilee.” And in that same instant, He was gone.
“Oh, rejoice in the Lord,” we sang with unbridled joy. “Let’s hurry to tell his disciples,” we called the same command to one another.
Our feet fled on wings of angels to tell the Good News that restored all hope. We shouted the news that changed our lives and the whole world – forever.
The above reflection is based on the resurrection account told by Saint Matthew, which is not the passage we read this year at Mass. It is part of a meditation on Holy Week through Easter published in the book called Who is Jesus? 1st Century Eyewitnesses Tell Their Stories.* The devotions in that book were developed through Ignatian Imaginative Prayer exercises.
*This excerpt has been minimally edited from the original publication of Who is Jesus? 1st Century Eyewitnesses Tell Their Stories by Cheryl Ann Wills