One of the striking features of the stories surrounding the resurrection of Jesus is the confusing emotional state. Joy and fear are frequently mixed. Jesus instructs them to “not be afraid,” and also “not to hold on to me.” Of course there is something very normal about having these very human emotions in response to something so incredible as the resurrection. Jesus wants the resurrection to become the source of something much more profound than an emotion however. Fear shows that this event has surpassed the disciples ability to understand. Joy shows that their hearts are full as they drink in the presence of the resurrected Christ. As rich and powerful as this experience is for the minds and hearts of the disciples, the risen Lord wants their spirits to be nourished by the reality of the resurrection.
We see later in the Gospel of Matthew that even with the resurrected Christ before them, even as they worship him, “some doubted.” A spiritual awakening to a new and more profound attachment to Jesus becomes the focus of His post-resurrection teachings. The coming of the promised Holy Spirit establishes the strong sure connection in faith, hope, and love to the risen Christ that is the hallmark of the Apostles. Their confidence and abandon in preaching and teaching, their fearlessness in facing the ultimate witness of martyrdom, all of these changes in the apostles attest more effectively to the resurrection than the appearances of the risen Christ. This confidence and certitude is something we ourselves can receive as a gift of the Holy Spirit by our faith in Jesus’ resurrection. We don’t need to be overcome by great fear or joy for our spirits to nourish themselves on the bread of the resurrection. May our minds and hearts cling to the reality of Jesus, given to us as we hear the Word on the resurrection with faith.
“What is meant by “with the eleven”? They expressed themselves through a common voice, and he spoke for everyone. The eleven stood by as witnesses to what he said. “He raised his voice,” that is, he spoke with great confidence, that they might perceive the grace of the Spirit. He, who could not endure the questioning of a poor girl, now discourses with such great confidence in the middle of people all breathing murder upon him. This in itself became an indisputable proof of the resurrection. He spoke [among] people who could deride and make a joke of such sort of things!… For wherever the Holy Spirit is present, people of clay are changed into people of gold. Look at Peter now, if you would, and scrutinize the timid one, the man without understanding (as Christ said, “Are you also still without understanding?”2). This is the man who was called Satan after that marvelous confession.3 Consider also the unanimity of the apostles. Of their own accord they yielded to him the office of speaking, for there was no need for them all to speak. So “he raised his voice and addressed them” with every confidence.”1
“Some among you may desire to be like these faithful women. You too may wish to take hold of the feet of Jesus. You can, even now. You can embrace not only his feet but also his hands and even his sacred head. You too can today receive these awesome mysteries with a pure conscience. You can embrace him not only in this life but also even more fully on that day when you shall see him coming with unspeakable glory, with a multitude of the angels. If you are so disposed, along with him, to be compassionate, you shall hear not only these words, “All hail!” but also those others: “Come, you blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you before the foundation of the world.””2