Mary Magdalene was a lover. When the One who truly loved her and whose love she reciprocated, was tragically taken from her, her grief was inconsolable.
Of all the Easter readings, my favorite is the one about Saint Mary Magdalene's response to the empty tomb found in John 20:11-18. From these few verses, we learn so much about grief, love, perseverance, and trust.
Early Easter morning, when Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to the tomb to properly anoint Jesus' body, they found the stone rolled away and the tomb empty. They ran to tell the apostles. John and Peter take off to the burial site and found it as the women had said - no body, only the burial cloths. After inspecting Jesus’ empty tomb, the disciples return home, bewildered and wondering.
Mary Magdalene, on the other hand, stays, and her perseverance is rewarded.
Mary is distraught because she does not know where Jesus is. Her grief is so great that she is not even phased by the appearance of angels. Whenever angels in their glory appear to other people in Scriptures, they are “troubled” or “afraid.” Even our Lady, when the angel Gabrielle appeared to her, was told, “Do not afraid” (Luke 1:30). Mary Magdalene, though, is too focused on finding Jesus that she doesn’t see the angels for what they are. Missing the One she loves, she misses the glorious vision before her.
As a matter of fact, Mary Magdalene, ironically, does not even recognize Jesus when he comes to her. She cannot see him through her tears of despair. Only when He calls her by name does she realize that the One whom she seeks is standing right there before her.
At times, we, also, get wrapped up in our worries or problems. We do not appreciate that Jesus is in our midst working everything out for the good. If we only open our eyes of faith, we could see signs of God’s love all around us. But sometimes, we get fixated on how God ought to answer our prayers or solve our problems.
Jesus listens. Then He quietly calls us by name, telling us, as He did Mary Magdalene, “Stop holding on to me,” meaning “let go of your preconceived notions of me.” God knows best how to bring about salvation. He knows best how to help us. From His vantage point, God sees the whole picture!
Only through the Holy Spirit, given to the disciples after Jesus ascended and to us at our Baptism, can we truly understand all God has done for us and is doing with us. We must persevere through the tragedies of our Good Fridays and the emptiness of our Holy Saturdays to experience the resurrection of Easter Sunday.