"The soldiers pocketed the money and did as they had been instructed." —Matthew 28:15
The soldiers assigned to guard Jesus' tomb had just endured a powerful earthquake (Mt 28:2). Simultaneously, they saw an angel, who looked like a dazzlingly dressed bolt of lightning, roll the stone back from Jesus' tomb and sit on the stone (Mt 28:2-3). Have you ever seen lightning up close? Have you ever seen it sit? Have you ever seen it dressed? Under the circumstances, "the guards grew paralyzed with fear of (the angel) and fell down like dead men" (Mt 28:4). When the soldiers came to, some of them "went into the city and reported to the chief priests all that had happened" (Mt 28:11). Then they took a bribe and promised to lie about Jesus' resurrection (Mt 28:12ff).
How can a person go through the most astounding supernatural experiences and not turn to God? The Lord warned us that if we "do not listen to Moses and the prophets," we "will not be convinced even if one should rise from the dead" (Lk 16:31). The human person is so narcissistic, self-aholic, solipsistic, absorbed with self that we tend to deny reality. We can think everything is made for us alone and the world is merely a self-projection of our desires. Even the reality of the risen Christ does not free us from our egomaniacal flight from reality.
However, when the risen Christ interprets for us the Scriptures (Lk 24:27) and opens our minds to understand His word (Lk 24:45), our hearts begin to burn (Lk 24:32). With the breaking of the bread, our eyes are opened (Lk 24:31). With the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, we are miraculously freed from the spell of self, and enter into reality: life in the risen Christ.
Prayer: Father, raise me from the death of self and sin.
Promise: "God freed Him from death's bitter pangs, however, and raised Him up again, for it was impossible that death should keep its hold on Him." —Acts 2:24
Praise: Alleluia! He is risen! Praise Jesus, "the Resurrection and the Life"! (Jn 11:25) Alleluia!
Nihil Obstat: Reverend Ralph J. Lawrence, October 9, 1998
Imprimatur: †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, October 17, 1998