But the angel said to the women, “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. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ This is my message for you.” So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Matt. 28:5-8.
Okay, so after a week of daily blogging, I’m pretty sure I’ve about run out of interesting things to say. I never tire, however, of discussing dogs. I have lived with dogs since about the age of five. Most dogs spend the bulk of their lives with a pronounced, undismayed joy. My dog, Georgia offers the perfect example of this unrelenting, joyful approach to the world.
So, I thought we should at least consider the notion of joy: a great Christian virtue, a profound spiritual practice, and one of the clear indicia of our faith. Particularly during the Easter season, we Christians should take a lesson and live like the gate has been left open. In Matthew’s story of the resurrection, the angel tells Mary Magdalene and “the other Mary” that Jesus has been raised. Jesus’ disciples thought they knew how this rotten story ended. When they learned that they were wrong, they left the tomb “with great fear and great joy” and ran to tell Jesus’ followers this good news.
Matthew describes a curious mixture of emotions: joy and fear, but I suspect that’s exactly what they felt. They were fearful because they stood on deeply uncertain ground, and this sort of ambiguity would certainly leave one anxious. They also felt great joy because their rabbi, their Messiah, and their friend still lived. And so, they ran. They ran like someone had left the gate open. You see, that’s exactly what Jesus had done: He had pried ajar the gates of hell and flung open the gates of heaven.
In Here and Now, Henri Nouwen wrote, “We have to choose joy, and keep choosing it every day. It is a choice based upon the knowledge that we belong to God and have found in God our refuge and our safety and that nothing, not even death, can take God away from us.” So, my suggestion to you, during this holy season of Easter is “Live like someone left the gate open.” Jesus has freed us from sin and death, and he left the gate to heaven wide open.
James R. Dennis, O.P.
© 2012 James R. Dennis