After the Resurrection, everything must have looked new for Mary Magdalene, whose feast is July 22. Contemplate for a moment Mary bringing the good news to those women who supported Jesus’ public ministry. This story is inspired by John 20:1–2, 11–18 and the Ignatian Year theme, “To see all things new in Christ.”
“I have seen the Lord!” Mary Magdalene exclaimed, bursting into the room.
“What?” I replied, putting down my knife and setting aside the cutting board.
“Yes. It’s true. He is alive!” Mary said breathlessly.
I felt goosebumps as Mary recounted her story. I knew that after the Crucifixion Mary remained alone at the grave with her grief. She refused to hurry off with us for the sabbath. When noisy guards accosted her, she finally joined us in the women’s quarters. She said the lump in her throat was as enormous as the stone blocking the grave.
“Today I dressed at first light,” she said in her best storytelling voice. “As I stumbled along the rocky path, a chill in the air, I inhaled the sweetness of wildflowers—like those I had strewn on his shroud. How could today feel fresh? My beloved, my best friend, was gone.” Mary shook her head.
“When I saw the stone rolled back, I wondered where the body was. I sobbed uncontrollably. And then,” she paused for effect, “I felt rather than heard someone approach, probably a gardener. But when he said, ‘Mary,’ my heart flipped from despair to elation to surprise to disbelief to confusion to ecstasy to overwhelmed and giddy delight. I wanted to hold him forever, to embrace his feet with my tears and never let him go. But he said not to hold onto him. And he said go to his brothers and tell them that he is alive.”
“Did you tell the Apostles?” I asked, about to fall off the stool as I leaned forward precariously.
“I’ve just come from them, but they did not believe me.” Mary finally sat, and she exhaled heavily. She held her cheeks with both hands before dropping her hands on her crisscrossed legs.
“What do we do next?” I asked with determination. “If the brothers don’t believe you, what can we do?”
Mary pondered. “Let’s pray the way Jesus taught us. Our Father, you who are in heaven…”
We bowed our heads and joined her.
“Peace be with you.”
We looked up. There was Jesus, standing in our midst. Jesus! He was the same and yet different—scarred and bruised, but radiant too. We cried and ululated in joy. We rushed at him in a giant hug. I could smell burial ointment. Jesus laughed. Jesus, right here!
“Dear friends,” he said. “I love you. I will help you tell my stories and draw in new disciples. Do not be afraid! All authority in heaven and earth are mine. The Holy Spirit will be with you.”
We sliced bread and vegetables and ate together. Everything would be different now. We were already receiving power to see everything in a new light.
“We need to go to the brothers,” I said as Jesus vanished from sight. The others nodded. “We ought to get them moving on this mission. I know I feel challenged to do more than I’ve done. Everything will change. We will be Jesus for each other now. We must remember and repeat the meal we shared on the night before he died. Everyone, get moving! We all have work to do.”
Image: Christ’s Appearance to Mary Magdalene after the Resurrection by Alexander Andreyevich Ivanov. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.