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The Tomb Is Empty…Tell the World

by Claudia McDonnell

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How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings glad tidings, announcing peace, bearing good news, announcing salvation, and saying to Zion, “Your God is King!”

To the modern reader, it may seem like a burst of whimsy or poetical sport for Isaiah to unite the idea of good news with feet. But in the ancient world, centuries before the advent of electronic means of communication, feet and glad tidings had an immediate and very necessary connection. For in the absence of telephone, telegraph, radio or television, how would joyful news arrive if not by messenger, on foot? Beautiful indeed those feet must have seemed when they had walked and run many rough miles to deliver a longed-for message.

Perhaps there is no better example of the dramatic beauty of Isaiah’s words than the Gospel accounts of the first Easter. All four evangelists impress upon their readers the urgency with which the apostles and disciples spread the word of the Resurrection among themselves, even before they completely understood what had happened. Reading the New Testament narratives, one can almost hear the sound of running feet and breathless voices.

According to Matthew, the women who encountered the angel at Christ’s tomb “…departed quickly in fear and great joy…” to tell the others. John relates how he and Peter, alerted by Mary Magdalene, ran all the way to the tomb to investigate. John ran so fast that Peter, who was older, could not keep up with him. Christ Himself, upon disclosing His identity to Mary in the garden, directed her not to linger, but to bring word immediately to His followers. And the two travelers bound for Emmaus on some unknown errand turned their feet back toward Jerusalem as soon as they realized who it was that had broken bread with them.

The four Gospels show that it is impossible to think of the first Easter without imagining the insistence with which the apostles and disciples sped the news from one to another. In just the same way, it is impossible to separate the good news of Christ’s Resurrection from the necessity of proclaiming it to the world. From the first Christians we inherit not only the message of salvation, but the obligation to make that message known as eagerly as they did. Easter is not a grand finale in the drama of redemption; it was the fulfillment of Christ’s work and it is the beginning of ours. His last words to the apostles were “Go and make disciples of all nations.” Every baptized Christian shares that responsibility.

Once when He was warning His disciples that they would face dissension and persecution, Christ told them, “I have come to cast fire upon the earth.” The powerful symbol of fire is an image of Christ Himself, purifying and enlightening the world. To this mission He called His followers, and He calls us. The Easter liturgy incorporates the same imagery when the new fire leaps aflame, piercing the darkness and lighting the Paschal Candle, symbol of the Risen Lord. Like the burning candle, each of us is meant to be a light to the world, a shining witness to the burning love of God.

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Tags: Christianity Prayers/Hymns/Saints Easter Reflections/Inspirational