FR. MIKE’S HOMILY FOR MONDAY WITHIN THE OCTAVE OF EASTER
THEME: DO NOT BE AFRAID
BY: Fr. Mike Lagrimas
HOMILY: Mt 28:8‐15
Then they went away quickly from the tomb, fearful yet overjoyed, and ran to announce this to his disciples. And behold, Jesus met them on their way and greeted them. They approached, embraced his feet, and did him homage. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”
While they were going, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests all that had happened. They assembled with the elders and took counsel; then they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him while we were asleep.’ And if this gets to the ears of the governor, we will satisfy [him] and keep you out of trouble.” The soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has circulated among the Jews to the present [day].
The women saw the empty tomb of Jesus. They left immediately with mixed feelings of fear and great joy. There was fear because they did not see the body of Jesus. They surmised that it was stolen. But who would do that? His enemies would be more than willing to make sure the body remains inside the tomb as concrete evidence that He is dead. Their fear must be with a great amount confusion and puzzlement. Perhaps they were afraid of losing Him again.
But at the same time, they were filled with great joy. The empty tomb was concrete proof that Jesus did not remain under the domain of death. The tomb had no power to hold Him any longer. Their joy must be caused by their realization that the Lord’s repeated promise of rising again after three days is now proven true. This was confirmed when they met Jesus Himself on the road, truly alive.
And He said, to them, “Do not be afraid.” This admonition appears in the Bible for at least three hundred times. It is God repeatedly reminding His people that He is in charge, and He certainly delivers His promises.
The statement “Do not be afraid” refers to two things. First, Jesus is telling the women that He has won victory over sin and death. Jesus is Lord of heaven and earth! Thus, all things in this world are under His dominion. They ought not to be afraid of anything that can harm them, not even sufferings and death.
Secondly, His exhortation also refers to the mission He entrusts to the women: “Go and tell my brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.ʺ The story that Jesus, who died and was buried, was truly alive is highly incredible. They must have thought about it, and the prospect of being ridiculed and ostracized is very real. But Jesus charges them with this mission, no matter what the consequences can be, for this is the truth after all.
Once again, the Risen Jesus is saying to all of us: “Do not be afraid.” One major reason why many of us are not that effective proclaimers of God’s message is our lack of love and faith, and these are caused by fear.
Fear is a concrete indication of lack of love. The Apostle John is clear about this. He said, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment, and so one who fears is not yet perfect in love” (1Jn 4:18).
Moreover, fear is the manifestation of lack of faith. That is why, on one occasion, before raising up the dead girl, Jesus told her father, Jairus, a synagogue official, “Do not be afraid; just have faith” (Mk 5:36). Other versions of the Bible says, “Fear is useless. What is needed is trust.”
At this point, it is apt to pray a portion of the Litany of Humility composed by Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val (1865-1930):
“From the fear of being humiliated, Deliver me, Jesus; From the fear of being despised, Deliver me, Jesus; From the fear of suffering rebukes… of being calumniated … of being forgotten …of being ridiculed … of being wronged … of being suspected, Deliver me, Jesus!”
During this Easter Season, let the words of the Psalmist constantly ring in our hearts: “This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice in it and be glad.” (Ps 118:24). Life in this world is, indeed, full of tribulations, pains and dangers. But the Lord Jesus has conquered them all. May we cast out all fear, and put our full trust in Him. Then, there is always reason to hope and to rejoice all the days of our life.
Pope St. John Paul II echoes this same message: “I plead with you ‐ never, ever give up on hope, never doubt, never tire, and never become discouraged. Do not be afraid… Do not be afraid to become the saints of the new millennium!ʺ (St John Paul II).
Fr. Mike Lagrimas
St. Michael the Archangel Parish
Diocese of Novaliches