In today’s reading, a lady named Mary Magdalene stands out as the first person Jesus appears to after his resurrection. St. Mary Magdalene is an interesting person within the history of the church who became a follower of Jesus after possibly being a prostitute and public sinner. She found new meaning in her life and became the ‘apostle to the apostles.’ The word apostle means ‘messenger’ and so she became the first to carry the good news of Easter to Jesus’ 11 apostles and everyone else.
What do Jesus and Mary Magdalene teach us today by their example in today’s reading?
- We need to have Mary’s humble heart and tears of repentance instead of having the stubbornness of the male apostles. In John’s Gospel, Mary is weeping for Her Lord near the empty tomb, but the apostles won’t believe her after she has seen Him risen. Jesus appears to these men and confronts their hard hearts. How many times can we men be stubborn and ignore what God is doing so we don’t hurt our own pride?
- We need to love women and see their dignity and worth the way Jesus sees women. Jesus did not exploit Mary Magdalene’s sinful past for his own pleasures, but instead, entrusted her with the good news as a faithful disciple. He saw her as a daughter of God and made in His image (Gen 1). This moment in the Gospels is very different in contrast to most of human history when women have been treated like property and objects of pleasure instead being treated as equal counterparts in society, the family, and the church. How are we empowering our wives, daughters, mothers, and sisters in Christ to proclaim the message of Jesus with dignity and worth?
- We need to long for the presence of the Lord the way Mary Magdalene did near the empty tomb. If we as men wait on the Lord and long for His presence, he can use us much more effectively in our families, workplaces and churches. If we avoid spending time with God in prayer, the scriptures, adoration, confession, and the Mass, it is more likely our stubbornness will lead to the long term crumbling of our families, careers, churches, and even ourselves.
Mary Magdalene truly shows us that someone can be on the peripheries of society and still be used by God. She at one time was despised and exploited by the world but then turned the world upside down by showing us Jesus through her humility. As St. Gregory the Great once taught, “Indeed because a woman (Eve) offered death to a man in Paradise, a woman (Mary Magdalene) announces life to the men from the tomb.” (XL Hom. In Evangelia, lib. II, Hom. 25). Let us be thankful for the gift of St. Mary Magdalene to the Church and for all women who make us more holy each and every day.
St. Mary Magdalene, Pray for us.