I love Mary Magdalene in this past Tuesday’s Gospel reading. After encountering the two angels in the tomb Mary whirls around, tears blurring her vision, and sees Jesus. She sees Him, but does not recognize Him. He asks her why she is weeping and who she is looking for, but she thinks He is the gardener and says,
“Sir, if you carried him away,
tell me where you laid Him,
and I will take Him.”
I can’t get over the sheer force of Mary’s love for Jesus. I imagine her tears of sadness and distress being mixed with the hot tears of anger that flow when someone we love is wronged or we are moved by injustices being suffered by people we don’t even know.
Driven by love, Mary is ready and willing to move the body of the Lord with her own two hands if the “gardener” will only tell her where he has laid Him.
“I will take Him.”
Fierceness and strength, and also vulnerability. You can sense her pleading tone:
Please, sir, tell me where He is. He has already been taken from me in this life, please don’t deprive me the ability to love and honor Him in death. I will do whatever it takes to stay close to Him.
But then He calls her by name.
And she hears, she knows, she sees Him. It is not the gardener, but the shepherd, the Good Shepherd.
“‘He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice… I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.’” John 10:3-4 & 10-11
It is Him: Rabbouni, Teacher.
Imagine Mary’s joy, her relief! Jesus is alive and here before her! But He reminds her that He must return to His Father, and gives her the prophetic task of relaying the news of His Resurrection to his Apostles. She must let go of Him, so that she can go out and bring the others back to Him.
“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 went and announced to the disciples,
“I have seen the Lord,”
and then reported what he had told her.” – John 20:17-18
A Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, fill my heart with a sense of urgent longing, as Mary had for You when she encountered the empty tomb. Help me to seek You more fervently in this season than I ever have before. Give me eyes to see You! Give me the courage to boldly proclaim You – the Risen Christ – within my own home and family. I ask these things in Your Most Holy Name, Amen!
Copyright 2020, Megan Gettinger