Daily Homily: I Have Seen the Lord

July 22nd, Feast of St. Mary Magdalene

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Song of Songs 3:1-4b

Psalm 63:2,3-4,5-6,8-9
John 20:1-2,11-18

When Mary Magdalene encountered Jesus in Galilee, he released her from the bondage of seven demons (Luke 8:2). She was a woman who knew great suffering, but also experienced the healing power of God. In Jesus, she found the one whom she was seeking, the one whom her heart loved (Song of Songs 3:1-4).

Freed from bondage, Mary accompanied Jesus and the twelve along with many other women. She was the leader of the group of women, who provided for Jesus and the apostles out of their means (Luke 8:1-3). Along with many other women, Mary followed Jesus and ministered to him from Galilee all the way to Jerusalem (Matthew 27:55-56).

She was there at Jesus’ crucifixion, and never thought once to forsake her beloved. On the Cross, Jesus said «I thirst»; today, in the Psalm, we hear Mary pray: «My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God». Mary saw Jesus commit his spirit to his Father and saw the lance pierce Jesus’ side. She saw blood and water flow out from Jesus’ side; she witnessed not only the birth of the Church, but also the two gifts that the Bridegroom gave to his Bride: the Water of Baptism and the Blood of the Eucharist.

After they took Jesus’ body down from the Cross, Mary and the other women followed and saw the tomb and how Jesus’ body was laid (Luke 23:55-56). Nicodemus brought myrrh and aloes and they bound Jesus’ body in linen cloths with the spices (John 19:39-40). The women returned home and prepared spices and ointments to anoint Jesus’ body after the Sabbath rest.

Together with the other women, Mary Magdalene hurried to the tomb on Easter morning. The women brought the spices they had prepared to anoint Jesus’ crucified body. Instead of finding the body, they found the tomb empty and met the Angel of the Lord who announced to them: Jesus is not here, for he has risen (Matthew 28:1-7; Mark 16:1-7; Luke 24:1-5). The angel told them to tell Peter and the disciples that the risen Jesus is going before them to Galilee.

Several of the women fled the tomb and said nothing to any one, for they were afraid (Mark 16:8). But Mary Magdalene hurried back to tell Peter and John all that the angel told them. She said to Peter and John: «They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him» (John 20:2). Peter and John ran to the tomb and the women followed behind. Peter and John both saw the linen cloths, but when John saw them, he believed that Jesus had risen from the dead.

Peter, John and the other women all went back to their homes, while Mary Magdalene stayed behind, weeping as she stood by the tomb. When she opened her eyes full of tears and looked in the tomb, she saw two angels, who asked her: «Woman, why are you weeping?» She answered: «Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him» (John 20:13). When she turns from the tomb and sees Jesus standing there, she does not recognize him at first. She thinks he is the gardener and asks him to tell her where the body has been laid if he was the one who carried it away.

At that moment, Jesus says to her: «Mary». On hearing her name, she knows that he is Jesus, she knows that he is her Beloved. She calls him, «Rabbouni» (Teacher), and falls down before her Lord to grasp his pierced feet. Jesus gives her the mission to announce to the disciples not only his Resurrection from the dead but also his Ascension to his Father and our Father.

With joy, Mary went and told the brethren, those who had been with Jesus, everything that Jesus told her (John 20:18). She tells them: «I have seen the Lord». But when they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they would not believe it (Mark 16:9-11). When Jesus appears in the upper room, he will upbraid the brethren for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe Mary and those who saw him after he had risen (Mark 16:14).

The Liturgy today invites us to contemplate Mary’s example of generosity, faith and love and ask for her intercession. Mary Magdalene experienced the healing power of God and sold everything to follow Christ and minister to him. Like Mary, our mission is to proclaim the living Christ and bring others to look forward to seeing him reign in the glory of the Father (Collect). When we present our offerings to the Father today, we recall how Jesus accepted Mary’s homage of charity as he traveled throughout Galilee and made his way to Jerusalem (Prayer over the Offerings). Finally, we ask God to instill in us a persevering love, the love with which Mary clung to Christ her Master (Prayer after Communion).

Readers may contact Father Jason Mitchell at mitchelljason2011@gmail.com.

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