Rome, Easter 2020
He is not here. He has risen (Mt 28:6a)
I was always struck by the expression used by the angel who sat on the stone sealing Christ’s tomb. Speaking to Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, he says: “He is not here. He has risen”. I am impressed by the evangelist’s means of expressing this; he goes from a weak “He is not here” to a solemn “He has risen”.
The expression is certainly not a simple description, nor a space-time indication of the location of a body; in this case, the body of the Crucified Lord. Rather, it is a proclamation of the new creation, the final victory; it is the definitive declaration of the Father’s saving will and the redemption carried out in the sacrifice of the Son.
However, let me repeat, the angel’s words begin with a “weak” means of expression: “He is not here.” The angel, sitting quietly like a workman on a break from his daily commitments, proclaims—in a simple, serene and non-invasive way—the happy outcome of the Easter itinerary (passion, death and resurrection).
I interpret this “style” to be the appropriate continuation of the attitude that Jesus of Nazareth adopted for his ministry: the use of discreet words, simple gestures and his serenely authoritative presence in order to communicate to the world the magnificence of the Good News, the justice and peace of the Gospel and the generosity of the Father’s merciful love.
I hope during this Easter—which, in most of the world, will be marked by weakness, disease, poverty, uncertainty, injustice and lack of immunity—that we Franciscans will present ourselves as credible signs of hope, in a way that is peaceful, without too many words, with subtle gestures, perhaps, but with active and decisive love. Only in this way will we be effective instruments of the love of the Father, who in Christ makes all things new.
“The sanctifying power of this night dispels wickedness,
washes faults away,
restores innocence to the fallen,
and joy to mourners.
It drives out hatred,
and brings down the mighty.”
Friar Carlos A. TROVARELLI