“Do not be afraid.” This sentence appears twice in the Gospel of Matthew read at the Easter Vigil. It is the first thing the angel says to the women at the empty tomb, and it is the first Jesus says to the women as they make their way away from the tomb to report what they saw to Jesus’s disciples.
In our day and age, “Do not be afraid” seems like a tall order. There is so much that can arouse fear in us as a first reaction. Yet we are called repeatedly in Scripture to move beyond our fears and into faith. The Resurrection of Jesus to new and glorious life is the ground of our faith. It is also the promise God has made to us that fear and death will not have the last word not only in the unfolding of the universe but also in the unfolding of each of our lives.
“Do not be afraid. Christ is risen.” And so are we.