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The Apostle to the Apostles
Saint Mary Magdalene
John 20:1-2, 11-18
On the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put him.” But Mary stayed outside the tomb weeping. And as she wept, she bent over into the tomb and saw two angels in white sitting there, one at the head and one at the feet where the body of Jesus had been. And they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken my Lord, and I don’t know where they laid him.” When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus there, but did not know it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” She thought it was the gardener and said to him, “Sir, if you carried him away, tell me where you laid him, and I will take him.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni,” which means Teacher. Jesus said to her, “Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary of Magdala went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord,” and what he told her.
Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, grant me a heart that seeks to encounter you, and in finding you, desires to share you with others.
- The Long Wait: How eager Mary Magdalene must have been early Sunday morning to go in search of her rabboni, if only to see him one last time and finish the preparations of his burial. Imagine her long wait. How does your own heart long to encounter the Lord? At the first possible moment, when Sabbath finally was officially over, she set out in search of him. To her dismay, her hope was not immediately satisfied. He was nowhere to be found. But Jesus did not disappoint. He saw her longing heart and answered the prayer expressed in her desires. Do we trust that Jesus also answers the deepest longings of our hearts, when they are centered on what is essential—to encounter our living God?
- Stop Clinging to Me: Unsurprisingly, Mary clung to Jesus as soon as she realized who stood before her. Yet Jesus had other plans. Perhaps her faith was to be further purified, making her already-converted heart even more beautiful. Jesus helped her to realize how she would relate to her God now: “I am going to my Father and to your Father.” She would no longer cling to Jesus in the human way she desired before. She would discover her identity as a daughter, called by the Son, to be a beloved child of a heavenly Father. While she might not understand this immediately, her love for Jesus was bolstered in trust as she came to a deeper awareness of his plan. In our life, are we willing to wait patiently for understanding, and to trust that Jesus has a greater plan for us, beyond what we immediately grasp and cling to?
- “I Have Seen the Lord”: With Mary’s new identity came a new mission: “Go to my brothers and tell them…” With what promptness she took on this mission! She was sent and did not hold back. She went to the leaders of the pack. Without doubt, she was the Apostle to the Apostles, as tradition states. Neither the Apostles’ status, nor their opinions, deterred her from sharing the good news. And me? Does my heart leap to share the good news wherever and whenever the Spirit prompts me?
Conversing with Christ: Lord Jesus, help me to know more fully my identity as a beloved child of a heavenly Father. From this identity, grant me the courage to witness to your victory over sin and death.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will reflect on how I can be an apostle to those around me, as Mary Magdalene was.
For Further Reflection: Nine Days with Mary Magdalene, RC Spirituality.
Written by Jennifer Ristine.