I will seek him whom my heart loves.
"Mary" - "Rabboni" - those two words are the most momentous exchange of greetings in Scripture.
"Do not cling" but "go and tell" - are the two sentences that make the most urgent requests in Scripture. "I go to ascend to my Father and your Father" is the most significant message in Scripture. The bearer of this news was titled, "the Apostle to the Apostles" by the early Fathers. Who is this most significant person? She is the leader of the band of women, who followed Our Lord, and ministered to His various needs. Mary of Magdala is her name, one of the most faithful, trusted and loving disciples of our Lord as recorded in the Gospels. Let us take ourselves to that spring garden on that very first Easter morn, just as the first streaks of pale pink light are illuminating the tomb where Jesus had been laid. Mary and the other women had come with their costly spices and ointments to anoint their dear Master, but alas, not finding Him, had reported this to the disciples who had come and gone. Mary alone stayed at the tomb. What thoughts must have entered her breaking heart! Who has taken Him? Where has He gone? Won't I ever be able to anoint His body in death? If only I could see my dear Lord again? What will I do without my Master, whom I love so ardently? Her reverie is broken by the angels guarding the tomb, who ask Quid ploras? But she was anxious to keep on seeking whom she had not found through her tears and immense love. Her overwhelming grief is disturbed by a voice- whose could it be so early in the day with the same question, Quid ploras? Encouraging, thought Mary, as it must belong to one who knew this garden - of course the gardener himself! He will know, thought Mary, what has happened to my Lord. As she anticipates some news, with her question, "please tell me where you have put Him", her world is turned upside down, with that two syllable word, "Mary!" How often must she have heard those two syllables with all shades of expression over the last three years! But this time it is like the crashing of a wave on the shore, the sun rising above the mountains, the colours of a fully fledged rainbow arced across the heavens. Tears of grief give way to tears of joy, and doubts begin to dissipate. But then her Master rejects her outstretched arms - that next moment after hearing her name, Mary must have been the most difficult in all her life. She has just found the One she loves more than anyone else, the whole centre of her adoration, the One for whom she has been searching through her hot bitter tears - and to be rejected of her one desire - to embrace her Lord - that abyss of despair must have seen bottomless! But all is changed in a twinkling of an eye. Her Master has chosen her, whom he had once healed of some infirmity, to be His ambassador the first missionary the first to herald the Good News chosen to be the grain of mustard seed for the Christian faith. No wonder Mary Magdalen was held in special affection by the early Church Fathers who always referred to her as "the Apostle to the Apostles". That affection continued throughout the centuries, especially in Mediæval times when she became the patron saints of penitents, although she is not the same person who was forgiven much for her sins in Luke 7. 37 - 48. What do we especially learn from that first Easter morn? Firstly, perseverance and endurance. Despite the desertion of all others, Mary would not give up. First at the tomb, and the last to go, and not until she had achieved her goal. So we must learn "that at the heart of every good work is to be found the virtue of perseverance." (Gregory). The early Fathers always referred to this virtue as the Queen of all. We surely need it to complete our pilgrimage to our heavenly home. Secondly, rejection. Mary did not run away as in a huff when our Lord refused her most ardent desire, but waited and listened for an explanation. How often do we run away when rejected or ignored or insulted. One of the hardest tasks of the Christian life is to turn the other cheek, and reach out in love. But we must do it if we are going to be faithful to our dear Lord and follow the Magdalen's example. Thirdly, comfort. The good works from Mary's perseverance was to greet her fellow disciples with the best news ever. We too have to be an ambassador of comfort to others despite what we may be enduring at that moment. Fourthly love. Mary showed it was love - an over brimming love, a selfless love that made her stay in the Easter garden. Nothing would deter her. Mary showed that to love means to love even when a response or action from another is not what we would like or even welcome. Love is not just a feeling, it is a whole acceptance of another as he or she is. To finish this beautiful feast day, I am including a poem I wrote about that first Easter morning a couple of years ago for our Bible Study group here on Whidbey Island. Hopefully it will help you with your meditations for today as we learn so much from Mary of Magdala. Mary why weepest thou so? Those hot bitter tears so early in the morning. I seek my dearest Rabbouni Where is his body? I want so much to anoint. In her blurred vision The gardener she perceived, Tell me where He is? Mary, Mary, dear Mary, Rabbouni! You are alive O happy the thought.
Her happiness overflowing
she reaches out to touch, to hold, to embrace once again. No, no, Mary, you must not, I have a more important task You are to be my apostle too. I want you to tell my disciples I ascend to my Father and yours, My God and yours. “I have seen the Lord!” Mary blurted to the disciples. He is not dead but alive! M.D.