Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord,” and then reported what he told her (John 20:18).
Mary is the Apostle to the Apostles! Though before she announces this proclamation, the foundation of our faith that Jesus has risen, we find Mary weeping outside the tomb. She is crushed by the death of her teacher and his body appeared to have been taken away. Peter and John, following Mary’s initial lead, ran to the tomb, saw it empty, and “then the disciples returned home” (Jn 20:10).
Mary stayed, she remained still, experiencing her doubt and growing despair.
How many times have our hopes been obliterated, what pain have we or do we endure, what horrors do we continue to witness in our lives, throughout our communities, country, and the world? When Jesus first speaks to Mary, she does not recognize his voice, thinking him to be the gardener. Are we like Mary, that we are so weighed down by our sorrow that we are unable to recognize Jesus in our midst?
Mary was willing to weep, to experience and not run from her sorrow, and deep down held on to hope. Even after seeing the tomb empty, even after Peter and John had left, she still looked in the tomb again. Despite a growing doubt and despair, even after encountering two angels, she did not leave the empty tomb. In the midst of her disillusion, Mary recognizes the risen Jesus when he calls her by name!
May we also not lose the ability to weep and to also hold on to hope. Both are part of our humanity. To lose our capacity to weep is to risk the slide into the temptation of indifference to our own pain and the agony of others. Hope is a cornerstone of our faith. Jesus is present in the midst of our brokenness. When we are willing to be still and experience our emotions, resist the temptation to run away from them, while at the same time embracing hope, we too will encounter Jesus.
Jesus is present in the midst of our trials and/or sorrows, as well as our joys, as he is present with us through the full range of our experiences. After we encounter Jesus, like Mary, may we go boldly forth with joy, to proclaim what he tells us! May we share the stories of our encounters with Jesus so as to be a living Bible to others. Our stories shared may be the only Bible someone else ever reads.
Mary of Magdalene, Apostle to the Apostles, pray for us!!!
Painting: The Resurrection by Peter Adams, 2018 – hanging in the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, Los Angeles, CA