Third Day in the Octave of Christmas
As we celebrate today the feast of St. John the apostle and evangelist, there is an important detail worthy of extra attention in the Gospel reading for mass. Mary Magdalene is the first person to proclaim the resurrection of Jesus Christ! It is for this reason that she is called the Apostle to the Apostles and is the patroness of the Order of Preachers (Dominicans). Mary Magdalene, the woman from whom Jesus drove out seven demons and who traditionally has been associated with the adulterous woman brought before Jesus for judgement, is given the great honor of proclaiming his resurrection. Not John the beloved disciple. Not even Peter of whom Jesus said, “you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church.” Mary Magdalene. A regular woman. A sinner. A person like you and me.
And what does Mary Magdalene say? Only what she saw. She doesn’t deliver a theological treatise. She doesn’t explain the significance of the resurrection of Jesus. She can’t even tell them where Jesus is located! Instead she simply tells the apostles that the Lord is missing from the tomb. You and I can be like Mary Magdalene. We can be preeminent preachers simply by our willingness to tell others how we have experienced Jesus Christ. We can tell people where we have experienced the Lord. And we can tell people where we haven’t experienced the Lord’s presence. Sometimes it is just as important to tell others where God is not present because people can get some funny ideas. God is crushing me with pain. Really? You think God is doing that? God caused my loved one to die. Really? You think God decided one day to cause a loved one’s death? It is true that God was involved, but there is a big difference between God permitting something to happen and God actively intervening in human history to cause a particular outcome.
We can be like Mary Magdalene and say that Jesus isn’t there. We can say that Jesus is not the cause of death, pain, or loss. And then just like the disciples, upon hearing this news, we can go in search of Jesus! Mary Magdalene followed Jesus during His earthly life and then sought him out after His resurrection. May we seek Christ in this life and so spend eternity with Him in the life to come!
Fr. Patrick Tobin