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. ( John 20:1-2, 11-18)
Today’s Gospel can teach each of us qualities that are critical for our spiritual journey. They are qualities that were inherent in Mary of Magdala – the apostle to the apostles.
When Mary understood that despite the horror of the cross Christ had been raised up, she proclaimed that truth fearlessly. Even though the apostles held a higher status, even though her message was open to ridicule, Mary told Peter and the others, “I have seen the Lord.” That is why her name is remembered and why we must imitate her courage.
That courage came from her love—the love that she had for Jesus in the goodness that she could see in him, the love she had for herself in what she might become were she to find forgiveness. This woman found courage from her love, the courage to act. Where do we need courage with the people we love? Do we need courage to say to our spouse, “You know, it’s not working. Something needs to change.” Do we need courage to say to a friend that their misuse of alcohol or drugs is hurting and even destroying him or her? Do we need the courage to say to some member of our family, “Your constant words of criticism and prejudice are unacceptable. They need to stop.”
It is not easy to speak the truth to those we love. We need to draw from our love and find the courage to act.
The second quality is the generosity of spirit that came from Mary’s commitment to Jesus.
Mary heard Jesus preach. She understood the gospel and accepted it. She wanted it to succeed. She did not simply accept it in her heart and pray about it. She generously chose to offer her life and her resources in Jesus’ service.
How is that an application for our lives?
What in our lives are we are committed to, in what do we believe? Do we allow our commitment and belief to lead us to generosity? We believe in our children. Are we generous with our presence and our time to make sure that they know our wisdom and our love? Perhaps we belong to some group that is important to us. Are we generous with our time to mentor younger members so that they can carry on once we are gone? Perhaps we are committed to a better world. Does that commitment translate into the generosity of helping the homeless and the sick, of protecting the environment?
It always comes down to not just accepting the word of God but internalizing that word to such a point that it drives our live. For years, I have used a personal motto that guides my life: “To Love Him is to Live Him.” I hope and pray that motto resonates within you.
Prayer of The Day
“Come Holy Spirit, be my teacher and guide. Open my ears to hear God’s word and open my eyes to understand God’s action in my life. May my heart never grow dull and may my ears never tire of listening to the voice of Christ.”
God can only reveal the secrets of his kingdom to the humble and trusting person who acknowledges their need for God and for his truth. The parables of Jesus will enlighten us if we approach them with an open mind and heart, ready to let them challenge us. If we approach God’s word with indifference, skepticism, and disbelief, then we, too, may “hear but not understand” and “see but not perceive.” God’s word can only take root in a receptive heart that is ready to believe and willing to submit. If we want to hear and to understand God’s word, we must listen with reverence, faith and commitment to those words..