B16   RESURRECTION - Mary Magdalene

St. John 20.vv.11-18

~ But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. They said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?" She said to them, "They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him". When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?" Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, "Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away". Jesus said to her, "Mary!" she turned and said to him in Hebrew, "Rabbouni!" (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, "Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, "I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God". Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, "I have seen the Lord"; and she told them that he had said these things to her. ~

Among the many popular and lovely stories in the New Testament probably none can rival or surpass that of Mary Magdalene's encounter with the Risen Jesus at the tomb on Easter Day. The reason is not hard to discover; for here we have depths of feeling, sensitivity and love between two people such as have few parallels in any literature.

Many attempts have been made to delineate the character and past conduct of Mary, but such surmise is vain for two facts of cardinal importance are clearly stated; first, Mary was one who had an unhappy and sinful background and, secondly, she was devoted to Jesus who had shown her love and forgiveness. Psychologists, amateur and professional, like to make of her a "case study", usually of hysteria, but there should be no mystique surrounding her. She was simply one who loved her "Master", who had witnessed his tragic death, one for whom the bottom had dropped out of her life.

When, therefore, Mary came early on the first day of the week to the tomb and found it empty she felt that her world had fallen apart around her.

The tears of Mary and the pathos and tragedy of her situation evoke the pity of all who read this story. Her love for Jesus is shown in the first place in her coming to perform gratuitous offices upon his body and, secondly, in her (probably impracticable) offer to take away his body for reburial.

Blinded no doubt by her tears she pours out her sorrow to the one she met in the garden until with the one word "Mary" spoken in the well-loved tone and voice assured her that her beloved "Master" stood before her.

The effect upon Mary was "electrifying" and elicited from her the greeting "Rabbouni" which expressed her overwhelming joy, excitement and conviction which we hear again in the joyful words she used when she rejoined the Disciples - "I have seen the Lord!".

For Mary the "night of weeping" had indeed become "the morn of song". "Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it". Not to all his earthly followers did the Risen Christ appear, but wherever and whenever there is undying love for him and spiritual insight to perceive his presence, he comes, and coming brings a relationship which transcends all sorrow, suffering and even death itself.

On Easter Day our greetings to one another are (or should be) "The Lord is Risen!", and the reply "He is risen indeed!", instead of the bland "Good Morning".

One cannot help but admire (and envy?) the excitement and drama of the Eastern Orthodox Church as it expresses the joy of Easter in its liturgy, for the Resurrection is not an addition to the Gospel, it is the Gospel. It is the "Good News" of what God has done in Christ Jesus.

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