John 20, 1-17 or Matthew 28, 1-8; Mark 16, 1-8; Luke 24, 1-8
On the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put him.” So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb. They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter and arrived at the tomb first; he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in. When Simon Peter arrived after him, he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there, and the cloth that had covered his head, not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place. Then the other disciples also went in, the one who had arrived at the tomb first, and he saw and believed. For they did not yet understand the scripture that he had to rise from the dead. Then the disciples returned home. But Mary stayed outside the tomb weeping. And as she wept, she bent over into the tomb and saw two angels in white sitting there, one at the head and one at the feet where the body of Jesus had been. And they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken my Lord, and I don’t know where they laid him.” When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus there, but did not know it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” She thought it was the gardener and said to him, “Sir, if you carried him away, tell me where you laid him, and I will take him.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew “Rabbouni,” which means Teacher. Jesus said to her, “Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and tell them, “I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.”
On Sunday, at dawn. Mary Magdalene and other women arrive at the Tomb. Along the way, they wondered who would move the massive stone to grant them access. What a surprise when they realize, upon arrival, that the tomb is open.
Mary Magdalene runs to the Cenacle, where the apostles are staying. She screams at the top of her voice that the body of Christ is nowhere to be found. Peter rushes to the tomb, along with another disciple. The disciple reaches the grave first and takes a peek. When Peter shows up, he enters the tomb. Indeed, no one is there. The linen is neatly folded.
Perplexed, Peter and the disciples head home. But Mary Magdalene remains in the vicinity of the empty tomb. She wants to find the body of her Lord. She then spots a man, and thinking that he’s the gardener, she asks him if he is the one who took the body.
When the gardener calls her by her first name, Mary, she instantly recognizes her Lord. He is alive; he is risen! In an expression of sheer joy, she throws herself at his feet. But Jesus asks her not to touch him, for he has not yet ascended to the Father. He asks her to announce to the disciples the following: “I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God” (John 20, 17).
With this reply, Christ is explaining why he had to die and rise from the dead: it is by his death and resurrection that he can take place beside his Father and our Father, and go back to his God and our God. We are united in him, with him, to the Father. Hence, there is no more need for his physical presence among us. Mary Magdalene will not see Christ anymore; she will not follow him physically anymore. But his presence within her will be stronger than ever, as by ascending toward the Father, he will take place in the most intimate layer of her heart.
Christ surrendered to the will of his Father: by doing so, he lived the Passion, its suffering and humiliation, in unity with the Father and the Holy Spirit. He offered himself as the perfect sacrifice, without stain, pure and holy. He was nailed to the wood of the cross. He died. He was buried. He descended to the underworld. And on the third day, his Father pulled him from this place of indifference and led him in the midst of the angels, to the throne that was prepared for him since eternity, to the right hand of the Father. On this day of resurrection, the gates of Heaven were opened to Adam, to all the Patriarchs and the Prophets, to all those who believed in him and his endless mercy.
Mary understands what Jesus is trying to tell her: my Father is not my father alone, he is your Father too. My God is not my God alone, he is also your God. Do not hold onto me. My place is not here anymore. I am done with the mission that was assigned to me, and it is time I go back home.
Mary, I overcame death. Death has no power over me. I am alive; I am risen. Death will have no control over you either, nor over Peter or any of my followers. I opened the gates of eternal life. The Kingdom of my Father is accessible. By my death, my resurrection and my ascension into Heaven, I bestow on you all necessary graces for your purification, your sanctification, and your glorification. By my death and resurrection, you are delivered from the consequence of original sin.
By my death and my resurrection, you are given a Father in Heaven. You are becoming sons and daughters, Children of God. Did you see, when the spear pierced my side, the gush of water and blood? This is the living water about which I was talking. And my body becomes the Church, of which you are members, by the grace acquired on the cross. You will share my life, the life of my Father and the Holy Spirit in eternity.
What a prodigious gift the Father offers humanity! All men and women of every race, language, people and nation are invited to participate in the banquet of the Lamb.
Mary, are you aware of the life to which you and your brothers are called? It doesn’t mean that earthly life is worthless. Live your life on earth fully; it is worth living. Respect is, it is beautiful. Follow your calling. It is a gift from God, an invaluable one.
Do you understand now the comparison with the pastor and his sheeps? Can you see now the pastures?
I am the poor of heart who opens the Kingdom of Heaven; I am the gentle leader who brings you to the Promised Land. I am the comforter of the afflicted, the one who satisfies the hungry and thirsty for integrity. I am the merciful, the pure of heart that will show you God. I am the peacemaker and the persecuted for justice.
Mary Magdalene, you earned the joy to be fulfilled by Christ. Through me, you will find rest, peace and felicity. Step into eternal bliss, welcome to Heaven!
Take a moment to treasure up all these things and ponder them in your heart (cf Luke 2,19)
Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer everyone. Col 4:6