Acts 10:34a, 37-43
Then Peter began to speak to them: “That message spread throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John announced: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. We are witnesses to all that he did both in Judea and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; but God raised him on the third day and allowed him to appear, not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, and who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one ordained by God as judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”
Psalm 118:1-2, 16-17, 22-23
O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his steadfast love endures forever!
Let Israel say,
“His steadfast love endures forever.”
the right hand of the Lord is exalted;
the right hand of the Lord does valiantly.”
I shall not die, but I shall live,
and recount the deeds of the Lord.
The stone that the builders rejected
has become the chief cornerstone.
This is the Lord’s doing;
it is marvelous in our eyes.
So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory.
Sequence — Victimae Paschali Laudes
Christians, to the Paschal Victim
Offer your thankful praises!
A Lamb the sheep redeems;
Christ, who only is sinless,
Reconciles sinners to the Father.
Death and life have contended in that combat stupendous:
The Prince of life, who died, reigns immortal.
Speak, Mary, declaring
What you saw, wayfaring.
"The tomb of Christ, who is living,
The glory of Jesus' resurrection;
bright angels attesting,
The shroud and napkin resting.
Yes, Christ my hope is arisen;
to Galilee he goes before you."
Christ indeed from death is risen, our new life obtaining.
Have mercy, victor King, ever reigning!
Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead.
This most momentous day for all creation cannot be told without mention of Mary Magdalene. We need to take a moment and think about her. In all the most important events of Jesus’ life: incarnation, birth, presentation, passion, death, and resurrection, there had been a hidden preparation in the mind of God. The Almighty used holy people. First, Jesus’ mother, Mary, from her conception, was spared the stain of original sin. Elizabeth and Zachary who parented John the Baptist, the herald of Jesus, were witnesses to the incarnation. They had been prepared by years of waiting and prayer before the angel, Gabriel, appeared to Zachary. Anna and Simeon witnessed the Presentation after receiving prophetic Words from God about seeing the Messiah. The chosen disciples of Jesus were witnesses to the Transfiguration, the empty tomb and burial cloths. All the important people were special and gifted and holy. But Mary Magdalene had not been born immaculate, had not been righteous, had not been fasting in the temple for years. But when she met Jesus, he cast seven demons out of her.
Mary was a follower and supporter of Jesus. She was there at the cross and the tomb. We know that she came when it was still dark and that all she expected to find was a dead body and she made it her task to minister to what she could for the one she loved.
It may be safe to say that Mary Magdalene may not have been chosen for the task of witnessing to the resurrection in the plan of God. But she was the first witness, a most special person in the Salvation story, because she chose herself. Mary simply decided to love Jesus more devotedly, more fearlessly, and more whole-heartedly than any other follower. Perhaps because Mary had been shown great mercy, she loved more. She was more free and able to follow Jesus. She was chosen because she was the one who chose Jesus.
Mary Magdalene is given to us as a gift to recognize that we ourselves have some power regarding how holy, how redeemed, how loving, we choose to be. We, like Mary, are all forgiven of our sins and redeemed by the blood of Christ. We can be just as mindful of the debt of gratitude we owe to Jesus, to become great saints of God by loving Him in our own lives.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, on this great day, I ask that I can have the humility and passion of Mary Magdalene. May I always be repentant of sin, mindful of my helplessness and the debt you paid for me so that I may burn with love for You so that no fear or disappointment can keep me from following You. May I always count the resurrection of Jesus as my greatest consolation as I accept his gift of mercy and forgiveness from the cross as my own. Amen