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.” (Matthew 28: 1-6)
Like Mark, Matthew tells us that Jesus first appeared to Mary Magdalene, although Matthew gives a bit more detail. Mark focuses on the fact that the disciples do not believe that she has actually seen Jesus. Matthew gives a broader view of the story, including more of the people who are involved, as well as some insight into this miraculous and incredulous story. Matthew creates a movie of the mind for us, helping us picture an angel with strength enough to move a boulder and perhaps a sense of humor enough to sit casually upon the stone once the task is done. It is also interesting to note that the focus on strength is continued in describing the guards, the presumably strong protectors of the tomb, who become weak and immobile in the presence of such a sight. To hear the angel’s message requires a different kind of strength, an inner strength granted to the women in this story.
In the same way, our faith sometimes requires a different kind of strength—a willingness to allow that sometimes, miracles do, indeed, happen.
Wondering: What kind of strength does it take to put our faith in God when what we hope for seems impossible in a world of hurt and fear?