ONE Magazine

The official publication of
Catholic Near East Welfare Association

Celebrating 50 years | God • World • Human Family • Church

The Tomb Is Empty…Tell the World

Proclaiming the miracle of Christ’s resurrection.

How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings glad tidings, announcing peace, bearing good news, announcing salvation, and saying to Zion, “Your God is King!”

To the modern reader, it may seem like a burst of whimsy or poetical sport for Isaiah to unite the idea of good news with feet. But in the ancient world, centuries before the advent of electronic means of communication, feet and glad tidings had an immediate and very necessary connection. For in the absence of telephone, telegraph, radio or television, how would joyful news arrive if not by messenger, on foot? Beautiful indeed those feet must have seemed when they had walked and run many rough miles to deliver a longed-for message.

Perhaps there is no better example of the dramatic beauty of Isaiah’s words than the Gospel accounts of the first Easter. All four evangelists impress upon their readers the urgency with which the apostles and disciples spread the word of the Resurrection among themselves, even before they completely understood what had happened. Reading the New Testament narratives, one can almost hear the sound of running feet and breathless voices.

According to Matthew, the women who encountered the angel at Christ’s tomb “…departed quickly in fear and great joy…” to tell the others. John relates how he and Peter, alerted by Mary Magdalene, ran all the way to the tomb to investigate. John ran so fast that Peter, who was older, could not keep up with him. Christ Himself, upon disclosing His identity to Mary in the garden, directed her not to linger, but to bring word immediately to His followers. And the two travelers bound for Emmaus on some unknown errand turned their feet back toward Jerusalem as soon as they realized who it was that had broken bread with them.

The four Gospels show that it is impossible to think of the first Easter without imagining the insistence with which the apostles and disciples sped the news from one to another. In just the same way, it is impossible to separate the good news of Christ’s Resurrection from the necessity of proclaiming it to the world. From the first Christians we inherit not only the message of salvation, but the obligation to make that message known as eagerly as they did. Easter is not a grand finale in the drama of redemption; it was the fulfillment of Christ’s work and it is the beginning of ours. His last words to the apostles were “Go and make disciples of all nations.” Every baptized Christian shares that responsibility.

Once when He was warning His disciples that they would face dissension and persecution, Christ told them, “I have come to cast fire upon the earth.” The powerful symbol of fire is an image of Christ Himself, purifying and enlightening the world. To this mission He called His followers, and He calls us. The Easter liturgy incorporates the same imagery when the new fire leaps aflame, piercing the darkness and lighting the Paschal Candle, symbol of the Risen Lord. Like the burning candle, each of us is meant to be a light to the world, a shining witness to the burning love of God.

Mary Magdalene, Peter, John and the rest were witnesses indeed on the first Easter, breathless with the effort of carrying the good news near and far. Today we may not need to take to our heels literally, as they did, for the world has changed in many ways since the days of the evangelists. They shouted out the good news to clustering crowds in the village marketplace; we hear it electronically amplified both in small churches and in huge cathedrals. We even hear it announced on television to audiences that number in the thousands or, occasionally, in the millions. For centuries after the founding of the Church, few of its members could read; today, Christian publications circulate widely throughout the world, and missionaries who preach the word of God to the unlettered are also teaching them to read it.

In the years before Christ’s birth, Isaiah sang the beauty of feet upon the mountains; in the twentieth century, beautiful are the feet that walk the concrete canyons where the broadcasting studios are. And beautiful are the feet that step up to the pulpit microphone, and rush to the copy editor’s desk, and climb aboard airplanes bound for the jungle, whether tropic or urban. Blessed and beautiful are all the feet that follow in the footsteps of Christ’s disciples, traveling every possible road to bring the news of salvation to mankind. And blessed are we when we clear a path for those feet, and help speed them on their journey. For however the times and the tools may change, the message and the need to proclaim it remain the same: His tomb is empty, and we must tell the world.

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