April 06, 2015
Monday in the Octave of Easter
1st Reading: Acts 2:14, 22–23
Gospel: Mt 28:8–15
Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, left the tomb at once in holy fear, yet with great joy, and they ran to tell the news to the disciples.
Suddenly, Jesus met them on the way and said, “Peace.” The women approached him, embraced his feet and worshiped him. But Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to set out for Galilee; there they will see me.”
While the women were on their way, the guards returned to the city and some of them reported to the chief priests all that had happened. The chief priests met with the Jewish authorities and decided to give the soldiers a good sum of money, with this instruction, “Say that his disciples came by night while you were asleep, and stole the body of Jesus. If Pilate comes to know of this, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” The soldiers accepted the money and did as they were told. This story has circulated among the Jews until this day.
(Daily Gospel in the Assimilated Life Experience)
To discredit the resurrection, the religious leaders instructed the guards to testify that the disciples came to steal Jesus’ body while they fell asleep in their post. What a risky strategy! Sleeping while on duty was a serious offense punished by the Roman law with death. In any case their argument was full of loopholes. Firstly, it was impossible that all the guards assigned to secure the tomb of Jesus fell asleep at the same time with no one remaining awake to notice the alleged theft. Secondly, their admission that they were asleep was fatal to their credibility as witnesses. Thirdly, while guards succumb to sleepiness now and then, they merely take forty winks. How could they not have awakened to the sound of rolling of the big rock that covered the opening of Jesus’ grave?
We haven’t heard of people adhering to this “stolen corpse” theory today. Nevertheless there are people who argue that an empty tomb does not necessarily mean that someone buried there had arisen from the dead. This argument is meritorious, but only when there are no other data available to support the fact of the resurrection. Had the empty tomb been a stand-alone proof the resurrection could have easily been dismissed as a hoax.
Our faith in the resurrection is not based on the circumstantial evidence of an empty tomb. Our basis is the faith experience of the people from the time of the Apostles down to our generation. The apostles who used to be hiding in fear were boldly proclaiming their faith in a risen Lord. Followers of Christ up to our generation continue to anchor their faith in the resurrection. Is it possible that a hoax can bind so many people for so many generations?
Prayer for the day: God our Father, grant us the grace to live like children of the light as we celebrate the resurrection of the Lord. Grant this through the same Christ our Lord, Amen.
SAINT OF THE DAY: ST. WILLIAM, Abbot, was born in 1125 at Saint-Germain in France. He became a canon in Paris and spent most of his time as the Abbot in Denmark. He went to Denmark upon the invitation of the bishop of Roskilde to restore discipline in the monasteries of his diocese. There was an initial struggle with the strong opposition of the canons regular, but later his leadership as abbot succeeded and he remained there for thirty years. For a short time he stayed in the Netherlands where he established the Monastery of St. Thomas in Zeeland and continued touching the lives of other monks with his holiness and austerity. Later he went back to his Abbey before his death at the age of 78.