Apostle to the Apostles
April 6, 2021 (readings)
- Tuesday in the Octave of Easter
- Carey Boyzuck
Mary Magdalene 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 went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord,” and then reported what he had told her.
Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, I am overcome by your power, mercy, and goodness. You are truly Christ the Victor! You revealed yourself to Mary Magdalene after your Resurrection; please reveal yourself to me now in your word.
Recognizing Christ: This Gospel reading is a continuation of the Gospel passage that was proclaimed on Easter morning: John 20:1-9. At the end of that passage, Peter and John had run to the empty tomb and found only Christ’s burial cloths. In this passage, we return to Mary Magdalene, who was waiting outside the tomb weeping. She believed that Jesus had been taken from the tomb, perhaps by the gardener or the Roman guards: “They have taken my Lord, and I don’t know where they laid him” (John 20:13). Then Jesus merely spoke her name, revealing himself to her. Mary Magdalene heard his voice and recognized it. Then Mary ran to cling to Jesus, overcome with joy at finding the Lord. We can ask ourselves if we have parts of our lives that we believe are lost or are broken. Jesus transforms those losses, hurts, and failures. His Resurrection is the greatest victory, able to overcome the greatest foes: sin and death. Christ surely has dominion over the smaller foes we must face. Let’s ask for that special Easter grace of transformation.
Eve and Mary Magdalene: There are some interesting points of comparison between our first mother Eve and Mary Magdalene. Archbishop Arthur Roche, secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, offered this comparison: “I would like to show the difference between the two women present in the garden of Paradise, and in the garden of the Resurrection. The first disseminates death where there was life, and the second proclaims Life from a tomb, the place of death.” Eve stood in the garden of life. She dwelled so near God that she could hear “the sound of the Lord God walking about in the garden.” But she gave up that closeness to God when she chose disobedience and sin, and then she hid from God, along with Adam (Genesis 3:8). Mary Magdalene knew God as well, but she saw him put to death for the sins of the sons and daughters of Adam and Eve. There by his tomb, the garden of death, she thought he had been lost, that the gardener had hidden him from her, and she tearfully sought him. When she found him, she found Life itself. Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die” (John 11:25-26). Encountering Life, she obediently and joyfully shared her witness and proclaimed the salvation of all who would believe in him.
Encounter and Evangelize: This is the first appearance of the Risen Christ in John’s Gospel. He appeared to Mary Magdalene, the Apostle to the Apostles, apostolorum apostola, as St. Thomas Aquinas called her. She was the first to announce the good news of the Gospel to the disciples. Notice that she did not go on her own accord; Christ sent her: “go to my brothers and tell them…” (John 20:17). Like Mary Magdalene, we are called to be apostles to others. The Holy Spirit sends us forth to go and tell others the Gospel, the good news of our own lives. Mary Magdalene had genuine encounters with the Lord, and she shared those with those around her. This is the heart of the new evangelization: encountering Christ and sharing his love with others. The key is to share our encounters sincerely, from the heart, motivated with love and inspired by the promptings of the Holy Spirit. St. John Paul the Great wrote, “All who believe in Christ should feel, as an integral part of their faith, an apostolic concern to pass on to others its light and joy. This concern must become, as it were, a hunger and thirst to make the Lord known, given the vastness of the non-Christian world” (Redemptoris Missio). Let’s consider the ways that we encounter Christ–in the Eucharist, in Holy Scripture, in prayer, in the goodness of others, and in the beauty of creation–and ask God how he is calling us to bear witness to him.
Conversing with Christ: My Jesus, thank you for your word. Help me to encounter you deeply so that I can bring you to others. May I be filled with the gifts of the Holy Spirit so that I can witness to you with knowledge, wisdom, and understanding. Most of all, light my heart aflame with love for you and for others so I ignite these sparks of love in others, whomever I meet.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will prayerfully consider how you are calling me to bear witness to you.
For Further Reflection: Watch this video by Dr. Scott Hahn: New Evangelization: The Courtship of Love.
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