Our Gospel reading this morning gives us an account of the resurrection of Christ, and more specifically of the encounter Mary Magdalene had with the risen Lord. It is Mary’s transformation and unfaltering devotion to Jesus that I wanted us to remember. I’ll finish by sharing a poem written about her and then I invite you to re-read the Gospel passage and have a time of prayer.
I want you to get some idea of the ‘real Mary’ when she encountered Jesus. Mary was suffering from demon possession. This may have been physical, mental, or spiritual illness. Whatever the case, she had had no life.
The New Testament reminds us that “if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!” (2 Corinthians 5:17) And so it was that Mary met Jesus face to face, an encounter that changed her life. Jesus cast from Mary the seven evil demonic spirits that had ruled and ruined her life (see Mark 16:9). After her healing experience, Mary’s life was transformed and she became a devoted follower of Christ. Constant in her faithfulness, she was counted among the small group of women who, at their own expense, served Jesus and His disciples as they preached and ministered to the masses.
Mary became an important leader of the ministering women. She proved to be a passionate follower who gave her time, energy, and wealth to the Lord’s work. She faithfully followed Jesus throughout His ministry. Even when almost everyone fled with fear after Christ’s arrest, Mary was constant. She lingered lovingly all the way to the cross and from a distance witnessed His painful death. Mary remained faithful to Jesus after His burial, long after the others had given up hope.
In His incredible grace, God chose a faithful woman, Mary of Magdala, to proclaim to the disciples and to the world the glorious life-changing news of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Mary of Magdala became the ‘apostle to the apostles’. Mary Magdalene’s devoted faithfulness to Jesus and her announcement of Christ’s victory over death shouts to people everywhere how an encounter with Christ changes a life forever.
Whatever lives we have led, wherever we are in our walk of faith in Christ, we can gain much comfort in knowing that we too can be a new creation in which everything old passed away and everything has become new.
It was unfinished
It was unfinished.
We stayed there, fixed, until the end,
women waiting for the body that we loved;
And then it was unfinished.
There was no time to cherish, cleanse, anoint;
No time to handle him with love, no farewell.
Since then, my hands have waited,
Aching to touch even his deadness,
Smooth oil into bruises that no longer hurt,
Offer his silent flesh my finished act of love.
I came early, as the darkness lifted,
To find the grave ripped open and his body gone;
The container of my grief smashed, looted.
Leaving my hands still empty.
I turned on the man who came:
‘They have taken away my Lord – where is his corpse?
Where is the body that is mine to greet?
He is not gone, I am not ready yet, I am not finished –
I cannot let him go, I am not whole.
And then he spoke, no corpse,
And offered me my name. “Mary.”
My hands rushed to grasp him;
To hold and hug and grip his body close;
To give myself again, to cling to him.
And lose myself in love.
‘Don’t touch me now.’
I stopped, and waited, my rejected passion
hovering between us like some dying thing.
I, Mary, stood and grieved, and then departed.
I have a gospel to proclaim.
Janet Morley (All Desires Known)