And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.
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Augustine of Hippo
According to Matthew, the angel sat upon the stone which had been rolled from the tomb, whereas Mark says that upon entering the tomb the women were astounded to see a young man sitting on the right, dressed in a white robe. This discrepancy would be troubling unless we understand that Matthew remained silent concerning that angel whom they saw when they entered the tomb and Mark remained silent concerning that angel whom they saw sitting on the stone outside the tomb. If this be the case, the women saw two angels and heard from them about Jesus progressively; first from the one who sat on the stone outside the tomb and then from the one whom they saw sitting on the right when they entered the tomb. They went into the tomb then because they had been exhorted to do so by the angel sitting outside, when he said, “Come and see where the Lord was placed.” Upon entering, as it is written, they saw and heard similar things from the angel sitting on the right side of the tomb, who is mentione...
Behold . an angel. The angel did not remove the stone to afford a passage to Christ when he arose; for Christ most certainly arose before the angel appeared; but he removed the stone to prepare the way for the women, and to show the soldiers that Christ was arisen. He sat on the stone, that the women might know he had removed it; and, in the second place, that they might not be terrified at the appearance of the soldiers; for he exhorted them not to fear, but to come and see; and lastly, to prevent the soldiers from putting in another body, had they been so disposed. The holy women seem not to have known that there were guards placed near the sepulchre; otherwise they would not have been so solicitous who should roll away the stone for them, as how they should deceive the guards and break the seal. (Tirinus)
For an angel of the Lord. This angel, who came to testify Christ's resurrection, removed the great stone; but Christ was risen before, who according to all the fathers, says Estiu...
After the resurrection the angel appeared. But for what purpose did he come? To roll back the stone. Why? To attest to the women of the resurrection so that they might believe. The women themselves had earlier witnessed him in the sepulcher. Now they behold an empty tomb. This is why the angel rolled the stone away and why an earthquake took place: that they might be thoroughly aroused and awakened to the resurrection. The Gospel of Matthew, Homily
An angel descended and rolled back the stone. He did not roll back the stone to provide a way of escape for the Lord but to show the world that the Lord had already risen. He rolled back the stone to help his fellow servants believe, not to help the Lord rise from the dead. He rolled back the stone for the sake of faith, because it had been rolled over the tomb for the sake of unbelief. He rolled back the stone so that he who took death captive might hold the title of Life. Pray, brothers, that the angel would descend now and roll away all the hardness of our hearts and open up our closed senses and declare to our minds that Christ has risen, for just as the heart in which Christ lives and reigns is heaven, so also the heart in which Christ remains dead and buried is a grave. May it be believed that just as he died, so was he transformed. Christ the man suffered, died and was buried; as God, he lives, reigns, is and will be forever.
“His appearance,” says the Evangelist, “was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow.” The brightness of his countenance is distinguished from the brilliance of his clothing. His face is compared with lightning from heaven and his garment to snow falling upon the earth. Listen to the prophet as he says, “Praise the Lord from the earth, you fire, hail and snow!” In the angel’s face, then, heaven’s brilliance adapts to nature. His clothing symbolizes the grace of human fellowship, and the appearance of this angel as he speaks is so tempered that physical eyes can withstand the peaceful brilliance of his raiment. As they look upon the lightning of his appearance, they tremble and revere the messenger of their Maker.