Heavenly Father, as I offer these words, I beseech you to see before you a sheep of your own fold, a lamb of your own flock, and a sinner of your own redeeming. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The earth quaked at the resurrection of Jesus (Matthew 28, beginning at the second verse). This quaking inaugurates the great re-beginning of the world and all therein. Mary Magdalene and the "other Mary" arrived at early dawn.1
Not dissimilar to Matthew's birth narrative, an angel messenger brings Good News.2 The women are told, and we are told, that God has acted. The powers, principalities of religion and statescraft were powerless in the end. Their devising and manipulating failed - failed to keep God from God's appointed task. Even death has lost the victory of dust's gravitational pull.
The messenger tells them to go and do what they have been prepared to do. Go and tell the Good News to Galilee and let the earth quake there.
Remember Galilee? That Matthean image, an icon, a typology for the world? The place where the real people live and the poor are fed good things. The lame walk, the blind see. Galilee, the place of miracles, and God's footsteps. The place where the Good News rooted itself like an oak of Mamre.
Galilee is the place where people met God, and God met the people in the person of Jesus. Galilee quaked at Jesus's word and intervention. Go and do, as Jesus as shown you. Go and tell the earth-quaking, soul-shaking, foundation-shuddering Good News. The women (and we) are charged with news: the resurrected Lord goes before us to meet us there - out there - where the ministry and the mission field waits.
God has tilled, the earth trembled, creation groaned, the temple curtain torn and the planting and the seed lay in its ground, buried for three days. Now he rises, Christ in all his glory to meet the day. For the harvest is at hand. Jerusalem give up your dead, and let the thousand stones shout for joy.
As the women leave, shaking with this news, Jesus appears to them as the resurrected Lord. Like a doublet he echoes the message. He charges them, "Go to Galilee" - for there in Galilee, God is doing good things. The action is there. The work is there. The mission is there. Go and I will meet you there, he says.3
And so, they go. They run, eager to tell. Yet, as they began to tell, with their imaginations filled with all that God has done, in the immediacy of a moment, Jesus appears a second time and stands in their midst. Oh, they must have quaked that second time, must have quaked, must have quaked at the sight.
And the brothers and sisters there immediately worship him. They grabbed his feet. The joy, the sadness, the fear, the amazement pouring out of them. They grabbed him.
Jesus says to them, "Do not fear." This is not just a greeting. It is a word of release. "Do not be anxious." "Do not be afraid." Imagine words from Jesus to them and to us, "I see you quake at this news and all that lies before you. Do not be afraid. This is how it is supposed to be."
Then Jesus says, "Go and tell the brothers." (That is the actual term used: brothers.) We might better say, go tell the family. Go tell your sisters and brothers, your cousins, your uncles and aunts. Go and tell all you know about what has happened here, what God has done: how death's sting is no more; death's hallowed halls emptied; judgment's price paid. They'll quake too at this news, I know they will.
You tell them. Tell them the Good News. Then, then tell them to go to Galilee (as I have told you). Get to Galilee and to your mission.
Don't miss the overtones here in this overarching narrative. We are to go, you and I, with the Good News to all the world.
New Testament scholar Daniel Harrington writes, "[This] event reserved for the end of human history, has happened in the midst of human history...to this extent the kingdom of God is among us."4
The resurrection is itself a re-beginning for us and for all who come to it in faith. We are invited to participate in God's great narrative, to become partners in its unfolding in this world and the next.
We are invited, according to Matthew, to proclaim a substantive Good News of Christ's resurrection as the first born of the dead, and to put the Good News into action such that people may receive it in word and deed by our collective pilgrimage of traveling together into the world - into the "Galilean" countryside amidst our own universes of workplaces, family, and friendships. We are to proclaim the richness of God's grace and the richness of God's engagement.
Remember, Jesus has prepared us to know not only where to go but also what to do once we arrive. Once we find ourselves there in Galilee. For it is in Galilee we will meet the risen Christ in the hungry and give them food.5
We will meet Christ in the thirsty and give them drink.
We will see the risen Christ in the stranger and we will welcome them - in the naked and we will clothe them.
We will see the risen Christ in the sick and in prison and we will visit them.
Yes, Matthew Chapter 25 is our instructions for living in Galilee. For when we do these things in Galilee, in the world - when you and I do these things for the least and the lost - we are God's family, and there Christ shall meet us all. There shall the foundations quake.
Let Galilee quake. Let it quake to its very core with the Good News of the risen Christ.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
1 Matthew omits their purpose being the anointing ritual because as we might remember this was done in chapter 26. (Daniel Harrington, Matthew, Sacra Pagina, 409)
2 While Mark's Gospel leaves the disciples with the question, "Who will roll away the stone?" as a moniker for the work of Gospel sharing, here the angel (not unlike the infant narrative) explains the stage that is set before the women as they arrive. (Ibid.)
3 The Matthean scholar Daniel Harrington points out that so important is the message of he is not here, go and tell, go to Galilee that the words of the angel and of Jesus appear almost as a "doublet." (Harrington, Matthew, Sacra Pagina, 410)
We can see it here:
a. He is not here; for he has been raised,
b. go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead,
c. he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.’
d. [He is the risen Lord] they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him.
e. go and tell my brothers
f. go to Galilee
4 Harrington, Matthew, Sacra Pagina, 413.
5 Matthew 25.