“Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabboni!” (John 20:15-16)
Today we celebrate the life of a Saint whose true identity and personality has been the subject of much debate among scholars, theologians and even non-Christians. She has become like the proverbial elephant being described by four blind-folded men. From any angle you stand, Mary Magdalene seems to take on a new identity.
For those campaigning for female priesthood, Mary Magdalene takes the personality of one. For others, Mary Magdalene was the woman who poured expensive oil on the feet of Jesus and wiped them with her hair. For others, Mary Magdalene was just one of the women who attended to the needs of Jesus during his public ministry. One fact we cannot take away is that Mary Magdalene was close to Jesus. She was more than a disciple, she was a friend to Jesus.
They say, you know your real friends when the chips are down. After His arrest, the disciples deserted Jesus; they ran for their dear lives. Peter even denied knowing Jesus but Mary Magdalene was one of the few who stood with Jesus all through. This is love.
Would you stay with Jesus when everyone else deserts Him? Would you accompany Jesus with tears on the way to Calvary when people all around are mocking, laughing and spitting on Him? Would you still pray when miracles do not happen? As St. Paul declares in today’s first reading, only your love for Christ can keep you going.
When Jesus died, it was as though all hope was lost. It was like a confirmation that Jesus was just a man after all. Everyone went their separate ways but Mary Magdalene still returned to the tomb. It was like she refused to believe that Jesus really died. What must have prompted her to come when there was no reason to do so? Love.
I was once at a burial ceremony and even before the grave was covered, everyone had deserted the place. They say you will know your value when you consider how quickly people forget you after your death. Mary could not forget Jesus just like that. She was the first to visit and the first to notice the greatest miracles of all. Her love paid off!
When Mary realized it was Jesus, she called Him by a name she was used to, her personal way of calling Jesus, “Rabboni!” She made a move to embrace Jesus but He said: “Do not hold me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father…” Mary was not just a client or a stranger to Jesus. She was a true friend. Who am I to Jesus? A client who seeks to grab the much I can from Jesus or friend who is in a relationship with Jesus?
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, open my heart to love you even when the chips are down. Amen. St. Mary Magdalene, pray for us.
Bible Study: 2 Corinthians 5:14-17, Psalm 63 and John 20:1-2,11-18).