Sunday Readings: Acts.34, 37-43; Colossians 3.1-4; John 20.1-9 (and John 20.10-18 to read Mary Magdalene’s part in the Easter story)
“Then the disciple who arrived first at the tomb went in, saw, and believed.” – John 20.9
“Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the lord.” – John 20.18
The Easter Sunday gospel ends with the beloved disciple’s model faith. He sees the empty tomb and believes. Neither on Easter Sunday nor the Second Sunday of Easter does the Church proclaim Mary Magdalene’s encounter with Jesus risen. Without Mary Magdalene staying and grieving at the empty tomb, the Easter gospel presents only the mystery of the empty tomb but not the full revelation that Jesus is risen.
Significantly, Mary Magdalene meets Jesus in a garden, a setting that echoes the Genesis garden and suggests Easter is a new day of creation. First two angels and then a man she supposes to be the gardener ask Mary Magdalene, “Why are you weeping?” When the supposed gardener speaks her name, Mary Magdalene recognizes her teacher, risen and present. Jesus commissions her to tell the other disciples, “I ascend to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” Mary Magdalene becomes the apostle to the apostles as she returns to Jesus’ followers and announces, “I have seen the Lord.” She is the first preacher of the good news that Jesus is risen. She shares with them that we share Jesus’ relationship with God. Jesus entrusts us as his brothers and sisters to his mission in the world.
Which disciple who goes to the empty tomb on Easter morning are you most like? Who responds as you would? The beloved disciple who sees the empty tomb and believes? Peter who goes back to the community of Jesus’ followers without saying anything? Mary Magdalene who stays at the tomb and grieves Jesus’ death, encounters Jesus risen, and then becomes the apostle of his good news to the others?
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