Jijo Kandamkulathy, CMF
Claretian Publications, Macau
EASTER VIGIL / HOLY SATURDAY – YEAR A
The closed tomb stood for an apparent victory of the wicked. The wicked thought that they had fought the righteous and managed to prevail. They believed that they had silenced Him forever. The huge boulder placed in front of the tomb and the picket of guards watching over it symbolize the victory of death over life, of impiety over righteousness, and hatred over love.
Faced with this tragedy, one wonders, “Will the darkness and the silence of the grave extinguish forever even the memory of the righteous, while those who killed Him mockingly laugh?” At dawn on Easter Sunday, God responded to this anguished question. In a flash of light, He ignited his life-giving power because He could not allow the Holy and Righteous One to remain in the power of death.
The angel of the Lord sitting on the stone recalls the gesture of the warrior who celebrates his victory by sitting proudly on the rampart on the city he has conquered. Matthew uses this war image to vividly depict the triumph of the Lord over death, the terrible enemy that has always terrified humanity.
After the defeat of death, the persons who have concluded their earthly life are not to be found in a grave but in the Father’s house. The angel of the Lord sends the women, “Go at once and tell the disciples that he is risen from the dead. This is my message for you.” It is not an easy mission because one who announces the Living One runs the risk of not being believed, or even of being laughed at. Only those who have had the intimate experience of a personal encounter with the Risen One have the courage to announce to all.
The women—a symbol of the community—are reassured, “Do not be afraid!” Those who love life need not fear the upsetting interventions of God. He comes to remove all the rocks that sin has placed to protect Death. It is an invitation to all to grow in the certainty of the victory of life: never will a righteous person be abandoned; each tomb, like that of Jesus, will be empty. The forces of death (injustice, oppression, slander, hatred, deceit, cunning…) will not prevail even if, apparently, for a time, they will appear to have the upper hand.
Faced with the great scene of Easter, all the losses and all the tears of the righteous of all times make sense.
The women hastily abandoned the place of death and rushed to announce to the brothers that Christ is alive. Faced with the same event, the guards do the opposite: they let themselves be corrupted by money. They are the symbol of those who, even today, for the sake of some material advantage, resign themselves to compromise. They prefer the lie to the truth, take sides with the powers that be and cooperate with them in an attempt to perpetuate the reign of injustice.
It is true that after Easter people continue to die as before. However, now they know that they will not remain in death. They know that life has a goal—that is not the night of the grave but the heavenly light, and that humanity has a destiny: the endless celebration.
(By Fr. Fernando Armellini SCJ. Translated by Fr. John Ledesma SDB. Abridged by Fr. Jijo Kandamkulathy CMF)