People do not drift toward Holiness. Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord. We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance; we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom; we drift toward superstition and call it faith. We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation; we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism; we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated. --D.A. Carson: (Canadian-born, Reformed Evangelical theologian and professor of the New Testament)
Gospel Text: (JN 20:1-2, 11-18)
On the first day of the week,
Mary Magdalene 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.”
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.’”
Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples,
“I have seen the Lord,”
and then reported what he told her.
On the feast of Saint Mary Magdalene, we might want to begin our reflection with the request , “Would the real Mary Magdalene please stand up !” I think back on all of the various stories I heard of Mary while I was growing up. She was a great sinner. She was a repentant prostitute. She was possessed by seven devils. She was a follower of Jesus in His ministry. She was a disciple. She was totally loyal, even to the Cross and burial of the Lord. She was the first to receive the revelation of the resurrection. All of these and more were said of Mary Magdalene. Will the real Mary please stand up ?
In the Easter account of John’s gospel. Mary is the FIRST to receive the revelation “He is Risen.” She is overjoyed and rushes to embrace His feet. Jesus stops her not because she was “a sinful woman” with a past, but because she had followed Jesus in life and now Jesus was preparing her to follow Him in faith. At that moment, Mary’s faith becomes firm and she becomes the Apostle to the Apostles, the first to hear the Good News and the FIRST sent by the Lord to announce the Good News to the other apostles.
Today’s scriptures invite us to understand Mary Magdalene as a woman of great love, intense desire to stand by the Lord, and a disciple of unwavering loyalty, dedication and faith..
I believe the real Mary Magdalene just stood up!!!