I had the blessing of sharing a reflection at a women’s gathering for the Feast of Mary Magdalene. It was such a lovely time of making lei po’o and fellowship. A friend encouraged me to save my reflection, so I thought I’d save it here. There is so much more to say, and this is very unpolished, but it’s my small offering.
2 Corinthians 5:14-18
John 20: 1-3, 11-18
When we take time to celebrate the saints, it’s easy to get stuck in the place of simply admiring them for what they have done for God or aspiring to take on characteristics that they embody. However, I think Mary Magdalene would want us not to notice her, but Him – the One she loved, the One who restored her, the One who was her hope and joy.
So, as we remember Mary Magdalene and reflect on her story and ours, let us cast our hearts on Jesus – who he is and what he has done.
When I read the passages about Mary Magdalene through the gospels, I was struck by what Jesus had done in her life. Jesus healed her; then he accepted her care and support as she followed him – all the way to the cross and then the grave. Following the resurrection, Jesus called her by name, and then he sent her to share the good news of His resurrection.
Jesus healed, he accepted, he called, he sent – this broken, yet now restored woman.
Mary Magdalene’s testimony is one of restoration and hope. And I believe her story, in some small way, might be our story too.
Jesus is the God of all peace, and while he doesn’t promise a life without suffering, he has suffered, and he is near to those who suffer. Mary Magdalene was a woman who suffered greatly, yet she experienced the miraculous healing power of God. In Luke 8, she is mentioned among the women who had been “healed of evil spirits and infirmities” (v. 2) by Jesus. Luke makes further note that from Mary Magdalene in particular, “seven demons had been cast out” (v.2).
I wonder if there is a time in your life when you knew Jesus as your healer? Or perhaps you know his healing presence all too well – his comfort, peace, or miraculous work of restoration.
The Gospel accounts tell us that Jesus healed Mary, then she followed him, and she cared for his needs all the way to the cross… where she stood nearby as he died.
I wonder what your response has been to his redemption and his presence in your life? I wonder how you show your love for him? In what ways do you enjoy serving him?
Mary had seen Jesus on the cross; he had died and was buried. Matthew mentioned that she was sitting opposite the tomb when the stone was rolled in front of the entrance. And Mark explains that she saw where he was laid.
I wonder if you’ve ever experienced a season when you felt like hope was lost …
Or maybe you were convinced that God did not care, that he didn’t see you, or that he had abandoned you.
Though he had been shut behind that stone, in that tomb, in that garden… Mary went back. John says, “Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb…”(20:1). She went.
I wonder if when you have been in that place of loss or despair if you went to Jesus just as Mary did?
I wonder what you found when you went to him?
According to John’s account, Mary was among the first to the tomb to discover that the stone had been rolled away and Jesus’ body was gone; she panicked,… and ran for help. It was Mary Magdalene who alerted the disciples of the empty tomb. Can you imagine her panic? – “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him” (20:2).
Then, she returned to the tomb, that place of loss and despair; and she cried – Mary Magdalene wept (John 20:11). It was in that garden, in her brokenness and confusion, that she then saw and spoke with angels… and then she saw the risen Christ. Yet, she had mistaken him for the gardener. Until, he said her name…. “Mary”(John 20:16).
In that moment, joy broke through; sin and death had been defeated. Mary Magdalene heard him call her name. Finally, she truly saw Him – the resurrected Christ. And she called back to him “Rabboni!” (v. 16)
I wonder if you have ever heard Jesus call your name. Calling you as a friend whose voice you recognize through the haze of loss, discouragement, or fear. I wonder if His voice is a familiar voice to you? Maybe a voice of comfort? of joy? or simply of knowing?
Finally, Jesus told Mary Magdalene to go and tell the others. Matthew records that she went with joy (Matthew 28:8)! So, she went to the disciples with the news – “I have seen the Lord” (John 20:18)! Mary Magdalene was the first witness of the Resurrection. Her testimony is one of restoration, steadfastness, and joy.
I wonder how God has called you? To whom has he sent you with the hope of his resurrection? Your family? Your neighborhood? Your workplace?
Maybe, he is first calling you to Himself. To come back, to see the empty grave. To weep, yet to look for him. To listen for his voice calling your name. To look for his hope-filled face.
As a friend, Fr. Mark Brians, wrote in a blog post (2020), ” the story of Mary Magdalene, is the Church’s Story. It is also archetypal of each of our smaller little stories.”
I wonder how you see yourself in Mary Magdalene’s story?
COLLECT FOR THE FEAST OF SAINT MARY MAGDALENE
Almighty God, whose blessed Son restored Mary Magdalene to health of body and of mind, and called her to be a witness of his resurrection: Mercifully grant that, by your grace, we may be healed from all our infirmities and know you in the power of his unending life; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen.