Last night, I went to the Easter Vigil at the Church of St. Paul the Apostle on Manhattan's West Side. It was a fine Mass clocking in at three hours in length (owing to nine scripture readings plus Psalms, two baptisms, five confirmations and a choir performance of "The Hallelujah Chorus").
The Gospel passage at this year's vigil was from Matthew Chapter 28. It's powerful in so many ways -- the resurrection of Jesus being the greatest, of course.
But, perhaps we also need to consider the actors in the miraculous account.
At this ultimate moment in salvation history, the apostles are not present. After all the teachings they had heard and the miracles they had witnessed, the men who had been closest to Jesus did not automatically go to the tomb on the third day. They were hiding.
It was the two Marys who had the faith, courage, determination and love to return to the place where Jesus' body rested.
And, for this, they were blessed with an interface with the angel and then Jesus himself:
Then the angel said to the women in reply,
“Do not be afraid! I know that you are seeking Jesus the crucified. He is not here, for he has been raised just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ Behold, I have told you.”
Then they went away quickly from the tomb, fearful yet overjoyed, and ran to announce this to his disciples.
And behold, Jesus met them on their way and greeted them. They approached, embraced his feet, and did him homage.
Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”
In this passage, the greatest charge of evangelization in all of human history is given to two women. It is the two Marys who are being told to proclaim the greatest of good news.
My question: What does the role of the two Marys on Easter morning in Ancient Israel have to teach the Church of today? Do women have a mandate from Jesus himself to preach?
For more on Easter, visit the Concord Pastor, Deacon Greg, Mike, Brother Dan, Rocco, Deacon Scott, McNamara's Blog, Father Stephen and Blue Eyed Ennis.
And, courtesy of Dan Sloan on Facebook, here is some Bach for Easter:
Flashbacks: Easter Sundays 2010, 2009 and 2008.