So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”
While they were going, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests everything that had happened. After the priests had assembled with the elders, they devised a plan to give a large sum of money to the soldiers, telling them, “You must say, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ If this comes to the governor’s ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.”
So they took the money and did as they were directed. And this story is still told among the Jews to this day.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
As Mary Magdalene and the other Mary leave the empty tomb to tell the disciples that Jesus is risen, they leave “with fear and great joy”. Fear and joy? This is an odd combination. But when God calls me to something new in my life, I have often responded this way. Moving to a new city? Fear and joy. Starting a new job? Fear and joy. Becoming a parent? Fear and joy.
St. Ignatius teaches us that the deep desires of our heart are God’s desires for us. For me, the experience of fear and great joy is often a sign that I am moving towards my heart’s desire. Margaret Silf writes that these desires “express the movements of my deepest underground streams and currents that spring from God and are known and understood fully only by him.” Sometimes we are called to leave behind something familiar to move towards the joy and fear of a new beginning.
On this Easter Monday, I take some time to consider Mary and Mary’s response to to the realization that their friend is risen from the dead, and that the path God is calling them to will be difficult, transformative, and beautiful. To what is God inviting me during this season of Easter that brings forth in me fear and great joy?
Imagine our deepest desire as a powerful underground stream, a promise of living water. This stream is so deep in our hearts that for the most part we are not even aware of it. When I let my prayer become this deep flow that I can’t even name or ever fully know, God is continuously responding to it. My prayer is not really mine at all but rather expresses the movements of my deepest underground streams that spring from God and are known and understood fully only by him. God’s answers are not brought about by my prayer any more than the sun’s movements are determined by the earth’s. Rather, my prayer is the response to God’s action in my life and his presence in my heart, just as the earth’s existence is a response to the sun’s.
—Margaret Silf, Inner Compass: An Invitation to Ignatian Spirituality