The stone was rolled away: Easter’s victory over death.
Brothers and Sisters in Christ, the Gospel passage for the Easter Vigil Mass this year opens with the scene of the faithful women visiting the tomb of Jesus. They have come early, expecting to find the tomb blocked by the large stone that sealed it. Instead, they find the stone rolled away and an angel sitting on it as if it were a throne! These are not incidental matters for Matthew the evangelist. To understand what Matthew wants us to grasp we would do well to look to the cross of Christ. While it first appears as a sign of loss and suffering, it actually emerges to be a sign of victory and life. Likewise, death was humanity’s ancient foe — the result of sin and a symbol of loss. But with the resurrection, death too in the beautiful imagery of St. Francis, becomes transformed into our loving sister. In this manner of great reversals, we must understand that the initial purpose of the stone covering Jesus’ tomb was to block us from experiencing the resurrection. It was a barrier to discipleship. But following the resurrection, the very thing meant to separate us from the truth has now been transformed into a throne upon which an angel is seated to declare the good news of our salvation.
My prayer is that in the 50 days of Easter to follow, each of us will experience the power of Jesus’ resurrection to transform the obstacles of our lives into the thrones of God’s glory. With God’s grace, there is no sin, no failure, no loss and no heartache that cannot become a sign of hope and resurrection. Indeed, the Scripture readings to following throughout the Easter season reveal that blessings can be found where least expected and love overwhelms all, including death.
Brothers and sisters, there is not a Mass I celebrate in which you are not prayerfully remembered. I kindly ask that you please pray for your priests, deacons, those who minister in our parishes and those whose efforts in the secular world likewise bring about healing and resurrection. And as always, please pray for the one who shares your resurrection hope and knows himself to be most privileged and blessed to be your servant.