The Apostle to the Apostles

John 20: 11-18
Acts 2:36-41 / Psa 33

Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: I have seen the Lord!
(John 20:18)

Declare, though we have never seen,
Share with all who care to listen,
The Word from Mary Magdalene:
Our Lord, Jesus Christ has risen!

Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?” She replied, “They have taken my Lord away, and I don’t know where they have put Him.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” Thinking He was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have put Him, and I will get Him.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward Him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”). Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that He had said these things to her. (John 20:11-18)

Reflection

We read slightly differing accounts of the Resurrection as related by the four evangelists, but all of them are in accord that our Lord Jesus first appeared to Mary Magdalene (and her other female companions, in the case of Matthew, 28:9 and Luke, 24:10). All four Gospel accounts give Mary Magdalene the prominence that one would expect should have been the privilege of the Blessed Mother Mary, or Simon Peter, or the beloved apostle, St. John. Why was this woman from whom seven demons were driven out (Mark 16:9) so exalted?

As we believe that the writings of the four evangelists were inspired by the Holy Spirit, so it should not be far-fetched to consider that our Lord wanted Mary Magdalene to be the primary example of how much God loves repentant sinners. In chapter 8 of Luke’s Gospel, the woman “who lived a sinful life”, and came with a jar of perfume, washing the feet of Jesus with her tears, has often been referred to as Mary Magdalene. Jesus told His host, Simon the Pharisee, “I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little” (Lk.7:47). This great love for her Savior she demonstrated by accompanying His Mother at the foot of the cross in Calvary, by being there until He was taken down and laid for burial, and for bringing spices to the tomb of the Lord on the day of His Resurrection. She also had the special privilege of being “commissioned” by the Risen Lord to announce His Resurrection to St. Peter and the other apostles (Mk.16:10); “…she told them that He had said these things to her” (Jn. 20:18). This is the reason why St. Augustine, one of the greatest doctors of the Church, called St. Mary Magdalene “the apostle to the apostles”.

Catholics are not the only Christians who venerate Mary Magdalene as a saint. The Orthodox, Anglican, Lutheran, and other Protestant churches also do, commemorating her feast day on July 22. As our Lord had predicted, when “she poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial,” . . . “wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.” (Mk.14:8,9) She might have been a great sinner before she met Jesus, but the grace of God’s forgiveness transformed her into one of His greatest saints worthy of our emulation in her fidelity to our Savior.

St. Mary Magdalene, pray for us to your Beloved Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ, that we may also become His heralds of the Good News of His Resurrection. Amen.

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