Standing beneath Pietro Perugino’s painting of the Resurrection, Pope Francis recalled the angel’s next words to the women: “I know that you are seeking Jesus the crucified. He is not here, for he has been raised just as he said.”
He commented: “This expression ‘He has risen’ goes beyond human capacity. Even the women who had gone to the tomb and had found it open and empty could not confirm ‘He has risen,’ but they could only say that the tomb was empty.”
“‘He has risen’ is a message… Only an angel could say that Jesus had risen, only an angel with the authority to be the bearer of a heavenly message, with the power given by God to say it, just as an angel -- 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’ (Luke 1:31-32).”
The pope pointed out that in St. Matthew’s account there was a “great earthquake” as the angel rolled back the stone at the entrance to Jesus’ tomb and sat upon it.
“That large stone, that was supposed to be the seal of the victory of evil and death, was put underfoot, it becomes the footstool of the angel of the Lord. All of the plans and defenses of Jesus’ enemies and persecutors were in vain. All the seals had crumbled,” he said.
“The image of the angel sitting on the stone before the tomb is the concrete manifestation, the visible manifestation of God’s victory over evil, the manifestation of Christ’s victory over the prince of this world, the manifestation of the victory of light over darkness.”
“Jesus’ tomb was not opened by a physical phenomenon, but by the Lord’s intervention.”
Francis contrasted the fear-filled reaction of the guards with that of the women at the tomb.
He said: “To find Christ means to discover peace in our hearts. The same women of the Gospel, after initially being shaken -- that is understandable -- experience great joy in discovering the Master alive.”
Quoting a Communion antiphon, he continued: “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.’”