From Tears Of Sorrow To Tears Of Joy
Tuesday of Octave of Easter in Eastertide
Acts. 2:36-41 & Jn. 20:11-18
Mary Magdalene was so fortunate to have been recorded in today's Gospel as the first person to have seen the risen Lord. But surely we believe that when Jesus rose from the dead He appeared to His mother because of the unique and essential part she played in our redemption. Without her ‘yes’ to God there would have been no Jesus and so no redemption for us. Then at the Passion no one after Jesus suffered so poignantly as she did. When Jesus appeared to her I am sure He would have told her that He had visited Joseph in the underworld and thanked him, too, for all he had done in helping her in His upbringing.
But back to Mary Magdalen. She had watched her Master and best friend die a cruel death on the Cross, helped prepare His body for burial and sealed Him in a tomb. Returning to the garden where He was buried she was bewildered to find an empty tomb. She saw two angels in dazzling robes who asked why she was weeping.
Poor Mary! The sorrows of her life weighed heavily on her. One sad day desperation had led her into a life of prostitution. With her dignity gone, her empty soul seemed suited only to be a haven for roaming devils. The world, the flesh and the Devil saw her only with contempt and selfish opportunity, but Our Lord saw her differently. He loved and restored to her life. Now she contemplated His empty tomb. Her heart was heavy with grief and horror as she had witnessed her Lord mistreated, beaten and crucified. All these thoughts welled up in her mind and caused her to conclude, as she spoke to Jesus Whom she thought was the gardener, "Sir, if you have taken Him away, tell me where you have put Him, and I will go and remove Him.”
Jesus, moved by Mary's expression of love, would not let her remain in such a state. With love and tenderness He calls her by her name, in effect saying, 'The sins of your past will no longer have power over you. Nor will those cruel men, or the Devil. I am here and I am the Resurrection, the Way, the Truth and the Life! Sin, evil men, the Devil, and death itself might stake their claim on you, but they cannot have you for you are Mine! I have bought you with the price of My own blood; I have laid down My life for you, My friend.' It was at this point that Mary realised it was Jesus, her dearest Friend who was speaking to her, for no one could say her name as He did. Yes, Jesus knows us personally and loves us in a personal way. We must believe this with all our heart.
Mary wants to respond to His love with an embrace but Jesus gives her a better way. "Go to My brothers and tell them, I am ascending to My Father and your Father, to My God and your God.” She obeys and becomes an apostle to the apostles. "I have seen the Lord" she cries out, and they believe her.
How envious we could be of Mary's experience! With her bodily eyes she saw the glorified Lord and she was able to have a conversation with Him. What a privilege it would be for us to receive a vision of the risen Lord, as some of the saints have done. Yet we do see the Lord, not with our bodily eyes but with the eyes of faith. Jesus comes to meet us every day in Holy Communion, and waits for us to tell Him that we love Him, to talk to Him about our joys, our sorrows, fears and anxieties, our needs and our loves. Do we greet Him as eagerly and excitedly as Mary did? Perhaps we could welcome Him more enthusiastically if we spent a little more time in preparation eagerly looking forward to His presence.
Again, we meet the Lord whenever we hear and read the Word of God. He is with us when we come together to pray. We see Him around us in our brothers and sisters in need. We see the Lord in every injustice that is set right, in every inequality that is overcome. We see Him in the innocent faces of children we nurture and lead to Him. We see Him in the person who hurts us and whom we forgive. We come face to face with Him each time we reach out a hand in love.
Jesus, just as You loved and forgave Mary of Magdala, You love each one of us. Let us draw ever closer to You, trusting always in Your ways and never fearing the cross You ask us to carry. Like Mary may we be apostles telling others about You.