At dawn on Easter morning, Mary Magdalene and the other holy women went to Jesus’ tomb to anoint His body with spices. They found that the large stone over the entrance had been rolled away, and Jesus’ body was not there. An angel appeared to the women telling them, “He is not here; for he has risen, as he said.” (Matthew 28:6)
The women rushed home in wonder to tell the eleven apostles, “but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them.” (Luke 24:11) Seriously, how annoying would THAT have been?
Finally, curiosity gets the better of Peter, and then John, and they run for the tomb. John gets there first, but can’t bring himself to go inside, so Peter is the first one in, then John, and they “saw and believed” (John 20:8) . . . in what Mary Magdalene said. In the Resurrection? Not quite yet, “for as yet they did not know the scripture, that he must rise from the dead.” (John 20:9)
I just love this visual of the women, slowly approaching the tomb at dawn, concerned that the body of the Lord has been stolen, then rushing home in excitement after the angel's message. Mary Magdalene is called the “Apostle to the Apostles” because it was she who brought them the good news of the resurrection. Peter and John, who were probably the oldest and youngest disciples, end up in a footrace to the tomb, where they see, but hardly know what to think. Then Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene, but she thinks He’s the gardener, and when she does realize it’s really Him, she’s so excited that He has to ask her to unhand Him. (John 20:17) It sounds like it would be a slapstick comedy, if it weren’t “the crowning truth of our faith in Christ.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church § 638).
But why, in the very next episode related by John, does Jesus invite Thomas to touch Him and believe, after He’s asked Mary Magdalene to stop holding on to Him? (John 20:7)
Well, unlike Thomas, Mary Magdalene doesn't need to touch Jesus to believe that He has risen from the dead. All it takes is that first moment, when she hears Jesus say her name. All the distractions fall away, and she knows that He is Risen. He is Risen, indeed.
As we enter into this Easter season, let's live like Mary Magdalene, believing and hearing Him say our name.
Kendra Tierney is a forty-one year old mother of nine and wife of one living in and working on a big old fixer-upper house in Los Angeles. She's a homeschooler and a regular schooler and is counting down the days until her oldest turns sixteen and can take over some of the driving! Her new book about living the liturgical year in the home is in the editing process. You can find her first book, A Little Book About Confession, here, her blog here, and her word art here.