Mary Magdalene, as you may know, figures prominently in the Resurrection. And, she is uniquely and stubbornly persistent in her pursuit of the Risen Lord. You may recall, in Matthew’s gospel (27:60-61), after Jesus’ corpse was placed in the tomb, and was “rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb,” “Mary Magdalene…was there, sitting opposite the tomb.” She would not budge. Close to the tomb of her beloved was her obvious place. After the Resurrection, as we read in John’s gospel (20:1), “Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb.” Back to the tomb, first (ahead of the apostles, to whom she then runs to share the new of the empty tomb*), was her obvious place.
I often share the words of my favorite seminary professor: “Haste characterizes love.” In other words, when you love, you waste no time (easier said than done!). Mary Magdalene is actually lovingly persistent. She is in love with our Lord—in the deepest sense—and she wastes no time to be with Him. And she has something to teach us, both by example and by active assistance in each of our lives. She helps us to pursue our Risen Lord and, once found by Him, to sit at His feet full of wonder.
This painting by French painter, Georges Rouault (d. 1958), whom I discovered while in seminary in France (there is one of his pieces at Wesley Theological Seminary here in Washington!), although simply entitled “Christ et Saint Femme” (“Christ and the Holy Woman”, makes me think of Mary Magdalene with the Risen Lord. She sits at his feet full of wonder, while He extends to her a tender invitation to deeper relationship with Him. May we say “yes” to the same invitation, this day.
* As the Frankish Benedictine monk, Rabanus Maurus (d. 856) and Saint Thomas Aquinas (d. 1274) both say, Mary Madalene becomes the “apostolorum apostola” (“apostle to the apostles”) because she announces to the apostles what in turn they will announce to the whole world (Rabanus Maurus, De vita beatae Mariae Magdalenae, XXVII; Saint Thomas Aquinas, In Ioannem Evangelistam Expositio, c. XX, L. III, 6) and she becomes the first “witness of Divine Mercy” (Gregory the Great, XL Hom. In Evangelia, lib. II Hom. 25,10).
The Rev. Charles Hoffacker is a retired priest of the Diocese of Washington