An Experiential Reflection of the Resurrection
Standing at the edge of the entrance and peering inside, he looked in and saw them lying there.
Running past the beloved one, it took a moment to process the shock of seeing the linen that covered his face rolled up apart from the rest as if it wouldn’t be needed any more.
She told them just a little while ago, “He’s gone! We don’t know where they’ve taken him!”
Grave robbers leaving behind the dressings but neatly rolling the head covering and placing it where his head had been would be strange. It was less strange to think that perhaps the Roman guards had moved the body to further desecrate it, or even stranger than grave robbers, that perhaps the Temple leaders had removed the body to deprive them of their grief or prevent shenanigans. Whatever happened was weird. But these were weird days and anything’s possible at moments like these.
Weirder still was Jesus’ cryptic statements that he would die and be raised from the dead after three days. They still couldn’t grasp that they were witnessing the fulfillment of this promised resurrection, because as weird as things were these days, this was still too much to consider. Seeing the tomb empty as Mary described, the men left for their homes leaving Mary behind at the grave.
Alone again. She started alone early that morning when she went to visit Jesus’ tomb.
Alone again. The living world buzzing around her, flowers fragrant in their bloom as they always are in early April. The musky scent of the garden tomb wrapped her head to toe.
Alone again. Even the tomb was empty.
Had she ever been so alone?
She wept, and looked once more into the tomb — but instead of finding it empty and herself alone, she started at the sight of two figures in white where Jesus’ head and feet would be. They had the temerity to ask, “Woman, why are you weeping?”. How could they not know when they were sitting where his body belonged? She was shocked. No, she wasn’t shocked. Mary was aggrieved; indignant that they’d ask such an obvious question.
Looking back, she imagined the things she would have said if she weren’t so stunned by what felt like thoughtless forwardness and the fact that they hadn’t been there even a moment earlier. Instead of the clever responses, she could speak only plain truth, “They’ve taken Jesus and I don’t know where!”.
A third person appeared for what was apparently now a garden party. This person said, “Woman, why are you weeping?”.
Woman. What is it with these people?
This voice had an air of authoritative expectation, and even though he was probably just a gardener, he might know something. This time instead of just telling the man what happened, she needed answers. “Look sir, if you’re the one who took Jesus just tell me where he is so I can take him someplace safe — this time one a little more private.”
This voice cut through her tears and caught in her throat like the sobs it interrupted.
This voice cast out her demons what seems like a lifetime ago.
This voice revealed to her the nearness of God as a present reality rather than some hoped-for eventuality.
Hearing her name spoken by this voice — this single word caused the rebreaking of her heart, but with joy rather than sorrow. A hope existing but ignored, after all he did say he would rise from the dead after three days — but that doesn’t happen. The dead stay with their own. Couple it be?
“Teacher!”, she said as she leapt to her full height and tugged him into a tight embrace. She thought, “He wasn’t being cryptic, but told us a truth that was more than we could bear, deeper than we could hear — too hopeful to hope for!”. She held her teacher close with new tears.
“Mary, embrace me, but don’t cling to me!”, Jesus said through a smile. Even in the smile, Mary recognized that unique single-minded devotion to the work before him. Jesus continued, “I haven’t ascended yet to our Father. I’m here for just a little while and still have a lot to do. Go tell the other disciples this, ‘I am ascending to my father and your father, to my God and your God’.”
The moment was over as quickly as it began, and before she knew it she was on her feet running back to the others to tell them the news they wouldn’t believe, and certainly couldn’t understand. Jesus had revealed it all to them with unique transparent clarity, but like all truth, they could only see it when their hearts were open and they had ears to hear.
Mary Magdalene, from whom seven demons had been cast.
Mary Magdalene, witness to the crucifixion and first witness of the resurrection.
Mary Magdalene, the first pastor in the history of the Church, went to preach the first sermon of the resurrection: “I have seen the Lord!”, and then told them everything Jesus told her to say.
We follow in the footsteps of Mary, proclaiming this truth throughout the ages, “I have seen the Lord!”.
May her witness live forever.