Leading the recitation of the Regina Coeli from the library of the Apostolic Palace, Pope Francis recalled that the day is also known as Monday of the Angel because “we recall the meeting of the angel with the women who arrived at Jesus’ tomb” after He had risen.
The Pope noted that the angel said to them: “I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has risen” This expression – “He has risen” – goes beyond human capacity, said the Pope.
Even the women who had gone to the tomb and had found it open and empty could not confirm “He has risen”, but only that the tomb was empty.
“Only an angel could say that Jesus had risen”, he said, just as only an angel had been able to say to Mary: “you will conceive a son…and he will be called the Son of the Most High.”
The Lord’s intervention
The Pope then noted that Matthew the Evangelist narrates that on Easter morning “there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone, and sat on it.”
He explained that the large stone, which “was supposed to be the seal of the victory of evil and death, was put underfoot,” and “becomes the footstool of the angel of the Lord.”
All of the plans and defenses of Jesus’s enemies and persecutors were in vain, he said. The image of the angel sitting on the stone before the tomb is “the concrete, visible manifestation of God’s victory over evil, of Christ’s victory over the prince of this world, of light over darkness.”
Jesus’s tomb was not opened by a physical phenomenon, but “by the Lord’s intervention”, said the Pope. The angel’s appearance, “was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow.”
“These details are symbols that confirm the intervention of God himself, bearer of a new era, of the last times of history,” said the Pope.
A two-fold reaction
There is a two-fold reaction in beholding this intervention on God’s part, said Pope Francis.
The first is that of the guards, “who cannot face the overwhelming power of God and are shaken by an interior earthquake: they became like dead men.” The power of the Resurrection overthrows those who had been used to guarantee the apparent victory of death.
The second is the reaction of the women, which the Pope described as being “very different” because “they are expressly invited by the angel of the Lord not to be afraid and not to seek Jesus in the tomb.”
A lesson from the angels
Pope Francis then went on to note that we can reap a precious teaching from the angel’s words.
“We should never tire of seeking the Risen Christ who gives life in abundance to those who meet Him,” he said. He explained that “to find Christ means to discover peace of heart.” The same women of the Gospel, after initially being shaken, experience great joy in discovering the Master alive, he said.
“In this Easter Season, my wish is that everyone might have the same spiritual experience, welcoming in our hearts, in our homes and in our families the joyful proclamation of Easter: ‘Christ, having risen from the dead dies now no more; death will no longer have dominion over Him.‘”
Finally, Pope Francis concluded that it is this certainty that “moves us to pray today and throughout the Easter Season.”
“The angel Gabriel had greeted [Mary] thus the first time: “Rejoice, full of grace!” (see Lk 1:28). Now Mary’s joy is complete: Jesus lives; Love has conquered.”
“May this be our joy as well!” said the Pope.