Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene

Today’s Gospel reading recounts the first apparitions of Jesus after His resurrection.  He chose to go first to Mary Magdalene.  The Gospel not only mentions her by name, but describes her as “the one from whom he had driven seven demons.”  Why is this so important?  Perhaps it is simply to distinguish her from Mary, mother of God, but I believe it is deeper than that. 

When a person is saved from deep sin, or experiences a deep conversion, having experienced astounding grace, they tend to have faith with deeper roots, a conviction that is harder to shake.  Mary Magdalen was not only a true friend of Jesus, she was saved from the torment of seven demons.  Her conversion was a physical, spiritual and emotional one.  Jesus must have known that of all his followers, she would immediately believe him, and would tell the others.  Having already experienced and shared such an incredible miracle before, being saved from seven demons, her witness to his resurrection would seem reliable, and hopeful! 

Jesus chose to go to her alone.  Was this a gentle meeting?  Was it shrouded in peace and quiet?  Did he slowly appear before her, or was he waiting for her?  I can only imagine that he gently spoke her name, in a voice meant just for her.  A bit of excitement, depth of deep love, a tinge of an “I told you so” smile.  Perhaps he opened his arms to her as she immediately recognized him and ran out to him laughing and crying at once?  We won’t ever know while we are on this earth, but I choose to believe that this moment was meant to reassure her that the demons would never come back, that Jesus would never leave her, and that her faith should remain as strong and as deep as the day she was saved from torment. 

I have often wondered why Jesus appeared first to a woman.  While Jesus’ companions were mourning and weeping, what was Mary doing?  The daily tasks of a woman?  Cleaning, and cooking?  Gathering water?  The tasks couldn’t be ignored just because of a death. Perhaps she was sitting alone gathering a moment to live in the grief between chores, when out of the stillness, Jesus spoke to her.

And after they spoke, Mary went and told his companions who were mourning and weeping, but they did not believe her.  They didn’t believe Jesus was alive, and they didn’t believe he had gone to see her.  For this hardness of heart, Jesus later rebukes them when he appears to the 11 at the table. 

It must have been painful for Mary Magdalene to know the truth and share it so profusely and be ignored.  Did they think the shock of his death had made her imagine things?  Did they call her crazy?  Did they try to comfort her? Bring her back to reality? 

How often does the hardness of our hearts block our work, or our understanding?  How often do we mourn and weep instead of look for Jesus?  How often do we let our faith falter, even when another who is strong in the faith shows us the miracles and the truth? 

The traditional explanation of this gospel passage is this:  Mary Magdalene and the other two whom Jesus appeared to first are a foreshadowing of the future, when people will disbelieve.  Those who believe without seeing will be blessed, as we Christians go into the world and proclaim the gospel.

Of course this is true, but there is more.  The bible is the living word of God.  What is He saying to you through the gospel today?

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