JULY 22. St Mary Magdalen. Jn 20. 1-2. 11-18
It was very early on the first day of the week and still dark, when Mary of Magdala came to the tomb. She saw that the stone had been moved away from the tomb and came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved. ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb’ she said ‘and we don’t know where they have put him.’
Meanwhile Mary stayed outside near the tomb, weeping. Then, still weeping, she stooped to look inside, and saw two angels in white sitting where the body of Jesus had been, one at the head, the other at the feet. They said, ‘Woman, why are you weeping?’ ‘They have taken my Lord away’ she replied ‘and I don’t know where they have put him.’ As she said this she turned round and saw Jesus standing there, though she did not recognise him. Jesus said, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? Who are you looking for?’
Supposing him to be the gardener, she said, ‘Sir, if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and remove him.’ Jesus said, ‘Mary!’ She knew him then and said to him in Hebrew, ‘Rabbuni!’ – which means Master. Jesus said to her, ‘Do not cling to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go and find the brothers, and tell them: I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ So Mary of Magdala went and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord and that he had said these things to her.
What is clear from this reading is that Mary Magdalen was someone with a great love of Jesus. We are told that, on the Sabbath, while it was still dark, she arrived at Christ’s tomb alone and, as a result, she was the first person to learn Christ’s body was no longer in the tomb.
Even after Peter and John had visited the tomb to see for themselves; - and then left; - she continued to stay at the tomb weeping. These facts alone indicate she had a profound Love of Jesus; - a love Christ decided to reward!
It is clear from the Gospel she did not immediately consider the prospect Christ had risen from the dead, as she then showed great concern for locating his body and looking after it; - asking the person she thought to be the gardener if he knew where she could find the body.
An interesting observation is that it appears Mary was not alone in not immediately considering the prospect Christ had risen from the dead; - despite his having given his disciples three separate predictions this was what was going to happen?
One can only wonder why this was so, given the Apostles had spent so much time in Jesus’ company. It would seem they never really comprehended what Christ was telling them, as they would have seen “resurrection from the dead” as an impossibility!
And one can only wonder why Christ chose Mary Magdalen as the first person to see him after his Resurrection, but it would appear to be because of her great love, as we must remember she was one of the very few who stayed with Jesus and witnessed his death on the Cross!
What a wonderful moment it must have been for Mary to find the one she loved so much was standing behind her; - and all he needed to say to reveal his resurrection was “Mary!”
It highlights what Christ is seeking from all his followers; - a simple and humble Love!
Tell us, Mary, what did you see on the way?
I saw the glory of the risen Christ, I saw his empty tomb.