9Suddenly Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him.
The word ‘greetings’ could just as easily be translated ‘Hello’ or ‘Hi’. I get a charge out of the idea of Jesus meeting these terrified, confused women, running from an encounter with angels and Roman soldiers, possessed of a message that the unthinkable has happened, with a “Yo!” or “Hey!” The Greek word is the customary greeting of the time.
But the word has a literal meaning: ‘rejoice’. We have forgotten that ‘goodbye’ comes from “God be with ye.” It no longer echoes with a sense of blessing. And perhaps this word here translated “greetings” is nothing more than that. But can it be that in the mouth of Jesus, in this first morning of the new world, it means no more than “Hello”?! Does it not require that we hear him say to us “Rejoice”? What other word will work on this day when the breach between heaven and earth is overcome, declaring once and for all that we were made for life and not death? What other word will work in this moment when every word and deed of Jesus, rejected by the world, has been vindicated by God? Can it mean anything less than “rejoice”?
Why should we who also live in the light of the resurrection settle for a mere “Hi” when we greet each other? It is tradition throughout the Easter season for the faithful to greet each other with the words “Christ is Risen.” “He is Risen indeed!” We rarely hear that now outside the formal context of the worship service, but it should be our greeting. Or, at the very least, “Rejoice!”
Imagine this message spreading like wildfire beginning that first Sunday morning as people went forth into their daily lives after the Sabbath. For fear of the authorities it was probably more of an excited whisper than a shout – but imagine the energy and excitement as the news spreads: “Christ is Risen!” And if the one greeted has already heard, then the response won’t be a mere “Yeah, I heard” for this is world shaking news. It can only be “He is risen!”
The word, the only word, is “Rejoice!” And we should live each day in the warmth of that joy.