“Tell My Brothers They Will See Me In Galilee”
The appearances of the risen Jesus are restricted to those who have kept faith, no matter how imperfectly. Thus the various ‘resurrection stories’ overlap, repeat themselves with variations, are located some in Jerusalem, some in Galilee. They are all the spiritual experiences of men and women who have been through a great crisis and emerged strengthened and enlightened.
These experiences are summed up in the words: “we have seen the Lord!”
First among the witnesses of the Resurrection are the women who stood by the cross while Jesus died, who hastily wrapped his corpse and laid it in the tomb, and now on the morning after the Sabbath, are nervously making their way to tomb to complete the embalming of Jesus’s dead body. Their biggest worry is who among them will be able to roll away the huge stone which seals the entrance.
It is there that the women encounter an angel who tells them, “Do not be afraid ! He is risen, he is not here. Go and tell his disciples.” And they see an empty tomb.
They ran away, seized with great joy, but also confused as to what to make of it all. And on the way they encountered Jesus. He greeted them, and they fell prostrate and clasped his feet. Jesus’s message is the same: “Do not be afraid! Go, tell my brothers they will see me in Galilee.”
Always, always the message of the risen Lord and his Spirit is the same: “Do not be afraid !” Joy and clarity of sight takes the place of anxiety or fear.
Galilee stands for the past, our past lives. It is here that we encounter God’s Spirit once again, but in a different way now, for we see the past with the eyes of the present. The past is important because it is there where we encountered Jesus. But when we look at the past with the eyes of God’s Spirit, we understand it for what it really is. The fears and oppressions are erased and a new understanding comes to life.
Matthew’s last story is that of a rumour circulating around Jerusalem at that time. Not being able to understand how Jesus’s body had disappeared, his enemies spread the rumour that the disciples had stolen it from under the noses of the guards! The priests and the Pharisees act as we do when faced with something unexpected: deny it ! manipulate the truth!
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