It is Holy Saturday, the Easter Vigil in the Holy Night of Easter, as we read in Matthew 28:1-10.
After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning,
Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb.
And behold, there was a great earthquake;
for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven,
approached, rolled back the stone, and sat upon it.
His appearance was like lightning
and his clothing was white as snow.
The guards were shaken with fear of him
and became like dead men.
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.”
One of the most joyous Masses of the year is the Easter Vigil Mass, held in the evening of the night before Easter Sunday. There is much pomp in the ceremony, with many readings from the Old Testament, the Epistle of Paul, and in the Gospel reading, the greeting from the Angel of the Lord to Mary Magdelene and “the other Mary” telling them that Jesus crucified has risen as foretold and is on his way to meet them in Galilee. Holy water is blessed for the year. The new Easter candle is blessed for the year. Often, there is a candle lighting ceremony with the congregation as the Mass begins in darkness and the new light from the Easter candle is shared with parishioners from back to front, lighting the whole assembly. The Gloria is sung in a beautiful rendition that glorifies God in a away that can send chills down your spine. That’s the way I have experienced in the Catholic tradition, anyway.
Jesus has risen from the dead and is on his way to Galilee to meet his disciples and himself greets the Marys on their way to tell them, urging the Marys to let the disciples know. The Marys are the first to know the good news. The Christian church begins. And as Jesus urges his followers to meet him in Galilee, it begs the question: Is there a Galilee for the rest of us? Will you meet Jesus at Easter Vigil service tonight? Or perhaps at Easter Sunday service? “Church” is a word meaning “community,” not building. Will you meet him in the Galilee of your heart? In the good works you do in His name?
“Tell my brothers to go to Galilee” is a direct command from Jesus to come to Him. An invitation, if you like. And it isn’t just to “brothers,” but to sisters, too. For Jesus gave the gift of first knowledge of His rising from the dead to two women. The Angel of the Lord said Jesus was going before them to Galilee.
Are you accepting Jesus’ invitation to meet him in “Galilee” this weekend? He’s there for you.
I wish you God’s blessings this joyous evening and a blessed Easter Sunday.