According to Matthew, it was Mary Magdalene and the other Mary who had the great joy and privilege of being first to hear about the resurrection of Jesus and to see him risen from the dead. Immediately they ran to tell the others.
If this all happened today no doubt it would be “breaking news”! Hashtag #Christ is risen! Hashtag #Christ is truly risen! But unlike many of the trending stories which ‘go viral’ on social media and disappear again within hours or a few days, here was news that would last centuries, news to be told from generation to generation and spread to the ends of the Earth. Today there are more than two billion followers of the Risen Christ!
Tradition tells us that Mary Magdalene boldly brought Good News of Easter to Emperor Tiberius himself! The story goes she stood before him with an egg in her hand, the symbol of new life, and she joyfully proclaimed ‘Christ is Risen’, ‘Christ is truly risen’
How much the world still needs to hear this Good News – a message of hope and joy to lift the sadness and despair that surrounds us. Much of the ‘breaking news’ we hear each day is news of great tragedy, of terrible violence, starvation, exploitation.
Last Sunday the shocking news of the bombing of Christians at Mass in Egypt spread around the world within hours. Thanks to the use of social media hashtag #Tanta and hashtag #Alexandria the towns where the attacks had taken place suddenly became household names. But sadly hashtags are quickly replaced by new ‘trending’ stories. Even a terrible atrocity like the slaughter of innocent worshippers at Holy Week prayer can be forgotten within a day or two. The world moves on while the families and communities involved remain shattered by the shock and trauma that has ripped their lives apart.
The Good News which Mary Magdalene and the other Mary witnessed and shared was not some naive or trendy celebrity story, out of touch with the reality of suffering and hardship that most people experience. After all, only hours previously they had seen their beloved Jesus condemned unjustly, humiliated and insulted by the powers that be, and abandoned to death on a cross. Their news was powerful and lasting because it was founded in the mystery of faith – that by both his Cross and his resurrection Jesus redeemed the world. Christians of every time and place continue to proclaim His death and to profess His resurrection until He comes again.
Our mission is to speak this Good News into the reality of 2017. By dying Christ destroyed our death. By rising he restored our life! This is our reason for hoping, our pattern for living and our consolation for dying in the hope of eternal life. We are unafraid to witness to Christ Risen even when that means being different, counter-cultural, finding ourselves over and against many of the prevailing attitudes and opinions around us. Sometimes daring to witness openly to our sincerely held Christian convictions can bring upon us ridicule and condemnation. Shockingly in 2017 it means death for some believers. The Christians of St George’s #Tanta and St Mark’s #Alexandria gave their lives because they chose to continue worshipping the Risen Lord in a threatening and hostile environment. But still, at Masses in Egypt today, through their tears and grief, these committed Christians will find comfort in proclaiming the mystery of our faith, “Save us, Saviour of the world, for by your cross and resurrection you have set us free”.
Christ is risen. Christ is truly risen!