Carry the gospel with you

Posted in Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on April 13, 2009

Gospel reading of the day:

Matthew 28:8-15

Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went away quickly from the tomb, fearful yet overjoyed, and ran to announce the news 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.”

While they were going, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests all that had happened. The chief priests assembled with the elders and took counsel; then they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him while we were asleep.’ And if this gets to the ears of the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” The soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has circulated among the Jews to the present day.

Reflection on the gospel reading: This passage from the gospel places Mary Magdalene at the tomb on the first morning of the week. All four gospel accounts put Mary Magdalene at the scene, though the synoptic gospels have her in the company of other women, and John’s gospel puts her there alone. We see an element in this narrative that we see over and again throughout the resurrection accounts, that when the resurrected Jesus encounters the women, he tells them, “Be not afraid.” This is an admonition that bears repeating. Our brains are hardwired for survival, and fear is a very basic and particularly strong response in our emotional repertoire. It’s wholly able to short circuit anything we’re doing as the neural mechanisms hijack our higher functions to ensure we remain safe and sound in our persons and psyches. The gospel asks us to take risks, to believe things that make our lives inconvenient, risk embarrassment for the name of Jesus, take care of others before we see to our own needs, and even prefer the faith to our own lives should a situation demand it. The gospel is often inconvenient, and it sometimes is a fearful burden. The resurrected Jesus offers himself as proof that we need not be afraid, that we can go about our lives with its many inconveniences confident that the outcome already is known, knowing that even if suffering is implicit in the passage toward the end, the final frame in our stories already is evident in the pattern of Christ’s own suffering, death, and resurrection.

Spiritual reading: Faith in the resurrection of Christ never misleads us, and hope in our own resurrection never deceives us, because God the Father both restored our Lord to life and will restore us to life too by virtue of his power. (Homily on the Gospels by Bede the Venerable)

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