Daily Reflection
July 22nd, 2005

Tom Shanahan, S.J.

University Relations and the Theology Department
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The Memorial of St. Mary Magdalene
Exodus 20:1-17
Psalm 19:8, 9, 10, 11
John 20:1-2, 11-18

Today is the feast of St. Mary Magdalene referred to as the “apostle to the apostles” because she is the first witness to the resurrection of Jesus. In our gospel reading today, Mary goes to Jesus’ tomb early in the morning on that first Easter day. She finds the stone at the entrance of the tomb rolled away and the tomb itself is empty.

Soon Jesus approaches Mary, but she does not recognize him. She thinks that she is speaking to a gardener. Mary asks him where the body of Jesus is. Then Jesus simply says her name, “Mary!” and she recognizes him. She holds him in an embrace of sheer joy, but he tells her not to “hold him back.” He commissions her to go to the disciples, still hidden in fear, and to let them know that he is alive, risen from the dead.

The encounter between Mary Magdalene and the Risen Lord shows a pattern that all the rest of the resurrection stories in the gospels exhibit. It can be parsed this way:

1. Jesus approaches the disciple;
2. He or she does not recognize Jesus;
3. A dialogue between Jesus and the disciple ensues;
4. Finally, the disciple recognizes that it is Jesus; then Jesus leaves the disciple;
5. The disciple returns to the others with the good news that Jesus lives.

That same pattern continues to be made real in our encounters with Jesus. Since that first resurrection appearance to Mary Magdalene, we continue to encounter Christ- in our lives and in our sacraments. Like Mary Magdalene we are invited and missioned by Jesus to be his disciples and to receive the same wonderful news that he makes a difference in our world and to let others know about it.

Lord, help me to be eager to serve the needs of others as Mary did in recognizing and hearing you, and then responding by sharing your blessings with them.

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