It is fitting that we read for Holy Saturday Mass the closing of Kempis’s chapter on purity and simplicity (2,4). What does the author consider “burdensome”: tribulation, anguish, lukewarmness/tepidity, fatigue.
Consider the apostles’ disposition from the Passover meal until the scene of the Resurrection (Mt 28:1-10). Kempis hits on at least three of their experiences: tribulation in the fear for their very lives as the man whom they were with daily for three years is executed in the most ignominious way they could ever conceive; anguish in the loss of their dear master and friend (see Jn 15:15) whom they came to believe to be the Son of God (see Jn 6:69); and the fatigue of grief in seeing the world they had come to know and embrace come crashing down around them.
So what is Jesus’ message to the apostles and His other followers, the first words from His mouth, repeating the angel’s exclamation? “Be not afraid!” No disappointment, no admonishment, no sadness. Regarding all the burdens weighing heavily on the hearts of those who loved Him most, Jesus says to put aside their fear and troubles and be bold. The Christ is victorious over death.
Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting? (1 Cor 15:55)
They (and we) no longer need to fear when we put aside inordinate affections (as Kempis emphasizes earlier in the chapter) and keep our eyes fixed on the Risen One with the promise that, no matter what this life dishes out (see Rom 8:38-39), we will rise with Him when He calls us to Himself.
Christ is risen! Indeed He is risen.