Friday, April 22, 2011

At The Feet of Jesus - Easter Vigil in the Holy Night of Easter

Reflections on the Readings
The Resurrection of the Lord
Easter Vigil in the Holy Night of Easter
April 23, 2011 - Year A
By Dennis S. Hankins

At The Feet of Jesus

And behold, Jesus met them and said, "Greetings!" And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshipped him. (Matthew 28: 9)

It is St. Paul who tells us how beautiful are the feet of those who preach good news!  (Romans 10:15) This description is uniquely realized in Jesus.  Everywhere he walked he brought good news to the poor and the afflicted, and to those oppressed by the devil.

In the days of Jesus, walking was the means of getting from here to there. So it was with some physical effort to get from one place to another.  In the gospels we read how folks would gather near to where Jesus was passing by.  Some cried out, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!"

As Jesus walked, he often would call out to those he had chosen, saying, "Follow me."  And that person would leave what he was doing and begin to walk with Jesus.  The roads they travelled were dusty and the days were long.  You can imagine how comforting and relaxing the washing of the feet was at the end of such a day.  In those days you not only washed your hands before you ate, you also washed your feet before you entered the house.

Sometimes someone intrigued with Jesus and his teachings would invite him to dinner.  In fact, Simon, a Pharisee, had Jesus over one evening.  While Jesus was eating, a sinful woman came to Simon's house uninvited.  She came with an alabaster flask of ointment.  She came to serve the one from whose lips she had heard the good news.  With grateful tears and kisses she bathed the feet of Jesus.  With her hair she wiped his feet dry.  And then she refreshed the feet of our Lord with the alabaster ointment.

Simon was aghast.  Surely Jesus would push this woman away if he knew what a sinner she was, he thought to himself.  But Jesus knowing his thoughts said to Simon, "Do you see this woman?  I entered your house, you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair.  You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet.  You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment.  Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little."

On another occasion, Jesus dined at the house of Lazarus and his sisters, Mary and Martha.  Martha, the meticulous hostess, fretted aloud to Jesus about Mary not helping her.  Mary, sitting at the feet of Jesus, listened as he bathed her soul with good news.  You see, it is this same Mary who followed Jesus to Simon the Pharisee's house.  It is the same Mary who had washed and kissed and anointed the feet of Jesus.  "Tell her to help me!"  Martha chided. But the Lord answered her, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things; one things is needful.  Mary has chosen the good portion, which shall not be taken away from her."

And now tonight we have this same Mary and another Mary, Mary of Magdala coming to the tomb of Jesus. Mary Magdalene is another woman who had heard the good news.  It was out of her that Jesus chased out seven demons.  Many such women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities followed Jesus and the Twelve. (Luke 8:2-3)

It is these two, Mary of Bethany and Mary of Magdala who after the sabbath, at the dawn of the first day of week, visited the tomb.  Arriving, they were greeted by an angel of the Lord.  The appearance of the angel was like lightening and his raiment was white as snow.  It is this angel who told them to go tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead and to go to Galilee, for Jesus, the one who was crucified, would meet them there.  On their way, Jesus greets them and as was their custom, Mary and Mary Magdalene fell at the nail scarred feet of Jesus and embraced them and worshipped him.

Like the Marys in our Gospel tonight, we also must go.  We must go to our families and friends and tell them the words of the angel:  "He is not here; for he has risen, as he said."  We must not keep this good news to ourselves.  It is not enough to know the good news, for it ain't good news until we share it.  We serve a living Savior, and he's in the world today; Jesus Christ, the same, yesterday, today, and forever!  He still forgives sins, he still heals the brokenhearted, he still visits the prisoner and feeds the poor.  May Jesus be alive in us and inspire us to do the good things of the kingdom, and to bring the good news of the gospel; for how beautiful are the feet of those who bring the good news.

On the Cross Jesus lived the words of the Psalmist, "They tore holes in my hands and in my feet - I can count all my bones - they stare and gloat over me; they divide my garments among them, and for my raiment they cast lots." (Psalm 22:17-18)

Oh, but in this Resurrection Vigil, let us join Mary of Bethany and Mary of Magdala  and the countless throngs in heaven at the precious feet of Jesus.  He brings us good news.  Listen.  Jesus speaks to us saying, "Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one; I died, and behold I am alive for evermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades. (Rev. 1:17, 18)  Amen. 

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