Following the death of Jesus, His disciples were utterly discouraged and filled with questions, doubts, unbelief and apprehensions. They were having difficulty grasping the full and eternal significance of Christ’s resurrection, most especially a bodily resurrection.
Lovingly, gently, and gradually Jesus began to manifest Himself to them in the forty days following His resurrection by appearing six times. They needed to hear Him, to see Him, to touch Him, to talk with Him. Their entire being had to be immersed in the Truth of His Risen Reality. Through their senses, reason, imagination and memory, Jesus led each one of them to an inner awakening of the divine Life and transcendent potential within.
Of the six appearances, the one that filled my meditative time was Jesus’ appearance to Mary Magdalene. She was the closest woman to Jesus of all who followed Him. She was an ex-prostitute out of whom Jesus had cast seven demons. She was saved from being stoned by Him. She witnessed His suffering and death at Golgotha, and she was the first to meet the risen Christ.
Mary had glimpsed a bit of Paradise, a new beginning. She had experienced forgiveness, compassion and love from Jesus. Then He was crucified and buried, leaving Mary in utter despair. She went to the tomb desperately needing to know that His death was not the end. She was so caught up in the distractions of her loss, of her grief and pain, of her inner turmoil and conflict, that she did not know Jesus when she saw Him standing by the tomb. Not until she heard Him utter her name did she turn and recognize Him. Jesus’ speaking her name crystalized all her longings, satisfied all the desires of her heart, and lifted her to a new and more profound vision of peace and joy, of completeness and wholeness and holiness, and hope of a new beginning. In this brief, eternal moment, in the Presence of the risen Lord, Mary knew deep within that Jesus loved her and that He would never, ever be lost to her again.
I pray that this beautiful story might fill and possess your hearts, for Mary’s story is our story, too.
Gratitude to Sally Chester for the lovely photo of Betty