Cardinal Homily

Easter Reflections of His Eminence Luis Antonio Cardinal G. Tagle, Archbishop of Manila, Philippines

The women who brought spices to anoint the body of Jesus asked each other on their way to the tomb, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” (Mark 16:3). Their concern was justified because the stone that covered the tomb was large.

The stone was meant to seal the tomb. But heavy as it was, the stone was a not sufficient barrier for the Pharisees and chief priests who had pushed for the death of Jesus. They asked Pilate to allow guards to be stationed at the tomb to ensure that no one would steal the corpse of Jesus, then claim that he was risen as he had promised. Pilate granted their plea. “So, they went and made the sepulcher secure, putting seals on the stone and mounting a guard.” (Matthew 27:66). Those who plotted Jesus’ death made sure that he remained dead, locked up in the place of the dead, with stone and armed soldiers to prevent his exit, whether dead or alive. They feared his promise to rise from the dead might come true. They were anxious that they themselves might start putting their faith in the one they had executed. The earthly powers of Jesus’ time assumed that a large stone and armed guards would guarantee the permanence of death. They were afraid of Jesus and his promise of rising from the dead. They put their trust in stone and guards.

But Mary of Magdala and the other women were not afraid of Jesus. They wanted to see and anoint his body. Their concern was removing the stone so they could approach him. “Who will roll away the stone?” Do not worry Mary Magdalene, Mary mother of James, and Salome. God will do roll away the stone! No rock, no soldier can subdue God. Nothing can chain Jesus, the Author of Life to the cold walls of a tomb. The stone was rolled away, the guards were so shaken they looked like dead men (Matthew 28:4).

Sisters and brothers, what stones have we placed to prevent the spread of true life, genuine love, invigorating humaneness, authentic caring, pure justice? The stones of sin, selfishness, greed, indifference, hatred, lust, idolatry keep people and societies in tombs. What stones have we positioned to seal the tombs of the victims of corruption, injustice, vices, slavery, trafficking, abuse, discrimination, prostitution, murder, and ecological neglect? Who will roll away the stones so that Life may come forth from the places of death and spread its sweet light? We have the answer: God will do it. The stones will crumble. The guards will fall flat. The Risen One will walk calmly to meet us. Let us go and meet Him. Behold, the Rock of our salvation!

A blessed Easter to all of you!