Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

The Easter Earthquake ~ The Angel Like Lightning

Painted high on the wall, this is the "White Angel" of the 13th century, Serbian Milesevo Monastery. Were we to visit, we would see the Myrrh-bearing women to the right and the soldiers fallen like dead men beneath the angel's feet. Here is the Gospel account.

On the night after the sabbath, at the hour when dawn broke on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalen and the other Mary came near to contemplate the tomb. And suddenly there was a great trembling of the earth, because an angel of the Lord came to the place, descending from heaven, and rolled away the stone and sat over it; his face shone like lightning, and his garments were white as snow; so that the guards trembled for fear of him, and were like dead men. Matthew 28: 1-4

This translation speaks of a great trembling of the earth while others speak of an earthquake. Remember just a few verses before, at the moment of Jesus' death we read:

And all at once, the veil of the temple was torn this way and that from top to bottom, and the earth shook, and the rocks parted asunder. Matthew 27: 31

God is shaking things up dramatically. The temple curtain is torn from top to bottom. Meaning? Now, in the open heart of Christ, and the open and empty tomb of Christ, everyone has access to God. There are no more barriers or designations required.

But also, do I need a personal Easter-Earthquake? A shaking up of my thinking: my partisan world view, my too-little thinking, my small thoughts of others, my childish thinking, my hard-headed thinking. Maybe my inner world of guilt or pessimism needs to be parted asunder.

And then there is this amazing angel descended from heaven. This is not a mellow, shoulder patting "there, there" angel, but with a face like lightning and a robe, blazing like the sun-reflecting snow.

Then the angel explained things to the women, as another angel explained the plan to Joseph at the start of the Gospel. What a surprise, as the women had gone only to "contemplate the tomb" - to mourn Jesus.  The angel said: "not dead, but alive" and the women get it, and filled with a sense of urgency, they run. 

What does all of this mean? God is glorious! God is awesome! God is attractive and beautiful! God can't contain himself and wants only to share himself with us. 

Let's be attentive to anything in religion that wants to tame God - take the surprise out of God: tame and tepid hymn singing, tame sermons, tame prayers. We live in a silly culture where, if we pay attention to the commercials, the only thing we should run for is a bladder emergency or to be first on the buffet or Black Friday line. But do I ever feel dazzled by God, awed by God, enough to make me run - at least interiorly?


  1. We need to look at the Gospels and see beyond the words printed on paper. More often we have to think of how they apply to us. Only then can we grow on the inside.

  2. We need this wake up call from God once in awhile. Let us not become complacent in our religion and our faith. It is a good thing to shake this up here and there.

  3. The prophet says, "Where there is no vision, the people perish." Vision means seeing things with a new clarity - what's down the road or around the corner. Speaking spiritually.