They watched him die – hanging from a cross and gasping for air. They heard him call out with the last bit of energy he could muster, "It is finished!" He was dead.
The day was just dawning when the Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to Jesus' grave. The last 48 hours had been a nightmare for them. Jesus’ death turned their hope into despair, their joy into grief and their faith into uncertainty. Only their love for him survived.
Jesus was crucified like an ordinary criminal. Of course, they’d hoped for a last minute miracle, as people often do, when they have to face death. However, he died just like the two criminals next to him.
On arriving at the tomb there was a great earthquake. An angel of the Lord, descended from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like a lightning, and his clothing white as snow. The guards shook in fear and became like dead men.
Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were also afraid but then they saw and heard the angel speak. He turned to the trembling women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. "He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said." – Matthew Chapter 28
They ran as fast as they could to tell the disciples about the risen Jesus. But before they reached the disciples they met the risen Jesus. He greeted them as usual and they fell down and touched him. He even talked to them and said, "Do not be afraid."
The joy of Easter is not only that God raised Christ from the dead. Easter joy is also about the possibility and the promise that, regardless of what our lives are like now, new life is available to each one of us here and now.
What matters most about Easter is not the empty tomb but what we do tomorrow, the day after, and the day after that. Jesus did not die and rise again so that we might continue life as usual.
The women went to the tomb on Easter morning, sad, depressed, confused, red-eyed and grieving. Easter changed them. It transforms us and it changes the way we live in the world.
Because of the resurrection the world is now a different place. The good news is that we don’t have to wait until we die to share in the risen life of Jesus.
As we walk the way of the Cross from the desolation of Good Friday to the victory Jesus won over death we remember and stand in solidarity with Christians around the world who are suffering because of their faith. We pray for Coptic Christians in Egypt whose churches were attacked by ISIS terrorists on Palm Sunday, causing many deaths and injuries. (Photo: Reuters: Amr Abdallah Dalsh)