After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men. 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. Suddenly Jesus met them and said, ‘Greetings!’ And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshipped him. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.’
In February, Turkey and Syria suffered a massive earthquake that tumbled buildings, killing, wounding and displacing thousands of people. Life as it was known crumbled into ruin. After years of war, this was not what they needed. Life can never be the same again.
It is fitting that an earthquake marks the resurrection, a metaphor for its impact. The two women are headed to the tomb to do for the dead what their culture dictated. Jesus’ death was disastrous, but it didn’t derail them from what they knew to do—until the earthquake. Their earth, their world, crumbled into ruin. The world would never be the same again.
I don’t know, at this writing, what will happen in Turkey and Syria, but I would hope that the common catastrophe might bring warring factions together in the face of the human tragedy. Something good could come of it. Something good certainly came from the earthquake the two Marys experienced. In the post-earthquake world, Jesus was known to be alive among them—like before, but not like before, encompassing all he had been, but adding a whole new dimension.
They run from the tomb, in a disorienting fog of fear and joy. Jesus meets them and gives them the orientation they need: “Go, tell my brothers to go to Galilee;” back to where it all started, for a new beginning, but on a brand new, much greater, and much more significant foundation.
The resurrection is more than a declaration that there is hope amid hopelessness. It is a promise of a whole new world, like the old, but unlike it, encompassing all we knew, but transcending it as well.
God of earthquakes, give us hearts to embrace the crumbling of our routines, that we may live into the new world you are bringing forth. Amen.
Fr. Paul Moore