Friends, today’s Gospel tells of the women who were the first witnesses of the Resurrection.
Jesus goes into the kingdom of death and brings to that dark place the light of God—and more to the point, he brings the power of God, and with this power, he breaks the hold that death has over us. In the language of the Church Fathers, Jesus has tied up and defeated the devil, thereby freeing us from the one who held us for ransom.
Thus the Resurrection of Jesus is the declaration of victory over this terrible power. In all of the Gospel accounts, mention is made of the huge stone rolled across the entrance of Jesus’ tomb. This seems to stand for the awful finality of death, the irreversible, dense facticity of it. It seems to be that power that can never be countered or gainsaid. But in Jesus’ victory, that stone is effortlessly rolled away.
The power that has held us ransom has been overthrown; the dark cloud that has brooded over our lives, turning us in on ourselves and outward in violence, has been removed. With Paul, we can mock the former lord of the world: “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”