Of Love and Forgiveness

Matthew 28:1-10
Rom 6:3-11 / Psa 118

Do not be afraid.
(Matthew 28:10)

I am forgiven and unafraid,
Sin no longer has a hold on me
“This is the day that the Lord has made”
Jesus has risen to set me free.

After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; He has risen, just as He said. Come and see the place where He lay. Then go quickly and tell His disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see Him.’ Now I have told you.” So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet overjoyed, and ran to tell His disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them on their way, and greeted them. They came to Him, clasped His feet and worshiped Him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.” (Matthew 28: 1-10)

Reflection

It certainly must have been a frightful experience for the two women to meet a heavenly creature, and then (suddenly) the Master Himself who had come back from the dead. All the more when they finally realized that Jesus was not an ordinary human being after all, even though He had always been the object of their love and devotion. Mary Magdalene and “the other Mary” were so overwhelmed with mixed emotions that they fell on their knees to clasp His feet and worship Him. Jesus had to reassure them by saying, “Do not be afraid.”

We recall the same words spoken to the very first evangelist in the Gospel who is also called Mary, and the first person that our Lord Jesus loved, His own mother. “Do not be afraid,” the angel Gabriel told her, “for you have found favor with God” (Lk.1:30). We say that the Blessed Virgin Mary was the first evangelist because she was the first person to announce the birth of the Messiah to her cousin Elizabeth. Our Lord also favored Mary Magdalene to be His first evangelist after His resurrection, because she was the first to discover that He had risen from the dead, and the first to tell the other disciples, although they initially did not believe her (Mk.16:10-11). Mary Magdalene was highly favored among all the disciples that Jesus loved because more than the others her love for Jesus was the greatest. As our Lord told Simon, the Pharisee, “For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little” (Lk.7:47).

Like Mary Magdalene, whose many sins Jesus readily forgave, we see the same effect that our Lord’s forgiveness had on the lives of His greatest saints. First was Simon Peter, who, because of his cowardice, denied that he knew Jesus three times. Jesus appeared to him and his companions at the sea of Tiberias (Jn.21), and instead of rebuking him, asked him three times if he loved Him. This was Peter’s absolution. The other great evangelist was St. Paul, to whom Jesus appeared as a bright light on his way to Damascus (Acts 9:3-6). In both cases, they were so overwhelmed by the forgiveness of their sins that they dedicated their entire lives in serving Jesus and propagating His Gospel of forgiveness and salvation.

Dear God, as we meditate on the life of Mary Magdalene and the other great saints who have shown their love and devotion for the forgiveness of their sins, we also confess our own sins. Please help us to make a resolve to dedicate our lives to Jesus and His Gospel, especially as we look forward to the feast of His Resurrection tomorrow. Amen.

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