“Do not be afraid.”
These were the first words that greeted Mary Magdalene and the other Mary when they came to the garden to visit the tomb of Christ on Easter morning.
It would have been very difficult to be anything but afraid if your best friend had been brutally murdered, and all the men who claimed to be his best friends had managed to disappear into the back streets.
I can easily imagine those women trying to slip out of a back door in a narrow street early on that Sunday morning, hoping no-one would see them or notice them as they scurried along and made their way out through the city gates with their small jars of oils and ointments.
They must have wondered whether they were being watched, if they were being followed, if they would be arrested when they arrived at the tomb.
Of course they were full of fear. Of course they were frightened out of their wits.
On its own, to see an angel would have been startling enough, enough of a fright, in those circumstances. I don’t know if I would have been calmed at all by being then told: “Do not be afraid.”
But those same words, “Do not be afraid,” are repeated time and time again that first Easter. When the women see the Risen Christ, he tells them: “Do not be afraid.”
When Luke gives us his account of the Resurrection, we hear Jesus asking the Disciples: “Why are you frightened?”
The Risen Christ challenges us to put aside all our hidden fears. There can be no lows after Easter. It can only be invitation to rise up and let go of all our fears as we accept Christ’s invitation to join him in his risen life.
This contribution to A Living Word was first broadcast on 25 March 2008 on RTÉ Radio 1. A Living Word is broadcast Monday to Friday at 6:40 a.m. as part of Risin Time with Maxi and repeated Tuesday to Saturday at 12:58 a.m. as part of Late Date. A Living Word is Radio 1's long-standing two-minute daily meditation. The archives are available at:
The icon of Mary Magdalene by Dimitrios Mourlas is part of the exhibition of Greek icons at the Gordon Gallery in Derry until 12 April 2008