Mark 16: 9-18
When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons. She went and told those who had been with him and who were mourning and weeping.
A Word of Hope
Today’s lectionary reading is one of those “proof texts” that provide evidence and names witnesses in regard to sightings and encounters with the risen Christ. As always, the accounts are varied and even sometimes conflicting in the four Gospels, just as witnesses in our world often offer many variations of their reports on a recent event. Point of view, degree of perception, and personal prejudices always contribute to what each considers the “gospel truth.” That phrase alone is ironic since each of the Gospel writers told their own versions of their own truth tailored to the needs and understanding of their particular communities.
On one proof-text fact, however, all of the writers agree. Mary Magdalene was the first person to experience the awe of seeing the empty tomb, and the first to bear witness of that event. On that morning, there might have been at least one or several other women with her, there were sometimes angels present, along with other minor variations reported by the writers, but Mary was always the central figure of this history-altering scene. This is why she rightfully has been given the title of “Apostle to the Apostles.”
Mark tells us that the men history later named the Apostles were together in the famous Upper Room, mourning and weeping that morning that Mary made and reported her discovery. A couple of them were moved enough by Mary’s testimony to follow her to the tomb in order to check out the situation themselves. Jesus had clearly told them that he would rise again, but I’ve often wondered if they would have ventured out of hiding that day to see if he had been telling the truth without Mary’s urging. Would we be reading the empty tomb story today?
Mary Magdalene had been present throughout Holy Week as Jesus’ final drama had unfolded. She was there at the foot of the cross and she was there at the tomb at the crack of dawn on the morning after the sabbath to carry out the ritual of anointing that was the ultimate symbol of love and loyalty of her people. Later that morning, as she was also the first to encounter the risen Christ himself, Jesus did not feel the need to instruct her as to her next move. All he said was, “Mary.” He knew she would get the job done. She did.
Thank you for the consistent love and loyalty Mary Magdalene still demonstrates for us today. May we recognize your voice in our own journey along your path and know in our hearts what route to take when you simply call our names.
Order of St. Francis and St. Clare