During this special Year of the Word: The God Who Speaks, we are going to have a regular series of reflections published on our website which will prompt us to reflect on important passages of St Matthew’s Gospel, and learn more about them. We are very grateful to Dr Natalie Watson, a contemporary theologian and writer, for offering these reflections for our community.
Matthew’s Gospel is full of echoes, lines and phrases that are repeated so that as readers we can remember them and carry them with us into our daily lives as disciples of Jesus. Often something new that we are reading about is related to something readers are already familiar with or have heard before, such as a passage from the Old Testament or a well-known story. As we are coming to the end of Matthew’s Gospel, we also hear echoes within Matthew’s Gospel itself. Twice in this passage we hear the words, ‘Do not be afraid’, said to the women who had come to the tomb and found it empty. First there is the angel in dazzling white clothes: ‘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. Come, see the place where he lay.’; and then at the end of the passage, Jesus himself: ‘Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.’ ‘Do not be afraid’ – this is what God told Joseph in a dream at the beginning of the Gospel. ‘Do not be afraid’ is what the disciples heard at the Transfiguration of Jesus. But this is not a simple line of encouragement to instil a bit of optimism that it will all be alright in the end. This is real. We need not be afraid because Jesus is risen. He is alive. In the tradition of the Church Mary Magdalene has been called the ‘apostle to the apostles’. She was the first witness to the resurrection, and the message she was told to pass on is the very life of the Church. In the Christian East, people greet each other by saying: Christ is risen, to which the answer is: ‘He is risen indeed!’
Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Thanks be to God!