2 And behold there was a great earthquake. . . .
Bede: The earthquake at the Resurrection, as also at the Crucifixion, signifies that worldly hearts must be first moved to penitence by a health-giving fear through belief in His Passion and Resurrection.
Jerome: Our Lord, Son at once of God and man, according to His two-fold nature of Godhead and of flesh, gives a sign one while of His greatness, another while of His lowliness. Thus, though now it was man who was crucified, and man who was buried, yet the things that were done around shew the Son of God.
Hilary: The earthquake is the might of the resurrection, when the sting of death being blunted, and its darkness illuminated, there is stirred up a quaking of the powers beneath, as the Lord of the heavenly powers rises again.
This is an instance of the mercy of God the Father, to supply the ministry of heavenly power to the Son on His resurrection from the grave; and he is therefore the proclaimer of this first resurrection, that it may be heralded by some attendant token of the Father’s good pleasure.
Chrysologus: If the earth thus quaked when the Lord rose again to the pardon of the Saints, how will it quake when He shall rise again to the punishment of the wicked? As the Prophet speaks, “The earth trembled when the Lord rose again to judgment.” [Ps 76:8] And how will it endure the Lord’s presence, when it was unable to endure the presence of His Angel?
Scripture from the Douay-Rheims Bible. Commentary from St. Thomas Aquinas, Catena Aurea, Vol. I (London: Rivington, 1842).