Tonight I heard the crickets for the first time all summer. It is a sweet and distinct sound, but a sad sound for me because it always signals that the end of summer approaches. I love the summer, and it is so short here in New England.
St. Mary Magdalene, whose feast we celebrate today, saw and heard all the signs of the coming of the end of Jesus’ life. She was one of His constant companions. She heard the rumblings of those who plotted against him; His arrest in Gethsemane; His mockery of a trial; His scourging at the pillar; His crowning with thorns; the crowd yelling, “Barabbas!”; His climb to Calvary; and His agony on the cross. She was there for it all. His life was too short – taken away before she was ready to let him go.
But it was to her that Jesus first appeared in John’s gospel after His resurrection.
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. (Jn 20:1-2,11-16)
She thought Friday was the end. And really, why wouldn’t it be on a natural level? She saw Him die. She was there when they crucified her Lord. He was gone. For three days, gone. Now the tomb was empty and even His body was gone. Can you imagine her despair? Her confusion? The hope and love she found in Jesus, just gone in the most unjust of manners. And now…his body was stolen.
We know now, it was not stolen. He had risen. But Mary didn’t know that until one thing happened. Jesus called her by name.
He changed her mourning into dancing at the mention of her name. It was when Jesus called her that she recognized him.
It is the same with us. God calls us by name through the darkness of suffering. He calls us to hope. He calls us to the empty tomb. But there are 3 long days in between the loss and the rejoicing.
We’ve all been there: Our own personal agony in the garden. But, God does not leave us there alone. He weeps beside us in each step to the crucifixion, so that we can rise with Him. He never leaves our side.
That doesn’t mean we don’t feel alone or afraid. Feelings aren’t right or wrong, they just are. Faith is something different. “Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen.” (Heb 11:1) Our hope is in the empty tomb. Our faith is in the one who left it – He who conquered death.
Like Mary Magdalene, Jesus calls us by name to persevere, to hope in him, through all the pain & struggle of Friday, believing that Sunday comes & that He “will make all things new.” (Rev 21:5) He is faithful and will never forsake us. (2Tim 2:13)
So today, I encourage you to take some time to be quiet and listen. Pray to St. Mary Magdalene, for her intercession that, like her, you will hear Jesus call you by name. Allow His love to make this day Easter Sunday.
God bless, Anne