Easter isn’t just one day. It’s eight days. An octave. What is more, every day of the octave is a solemnity. That’s the highest rank of feast day. So, happy feast day! Each day of the Octave of Easter also sees the daily Gospel at Holy Mass recount a different scene from the life of the resurrected Jesus. Today, we hear all about the encounter of Saint Mary Magdalene with the risen Christ as recorded in the Gospel of Saint John. What is the significance of that encounter to us today?
“God can break through our defenses, but usually there is a need for us to be open to his inbreaking in our lives,” say Bishop Earl Boyea in his Seven Days of Easter reflection for today, April 6.
“For how will we recognize him unless we are seeking him? God could be right in front of us and we could remain oblivious. This awareness of the divine presence is especially necessary if we are to become the messengers of the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus.” Bishop Boyea’s reflection is reproduced in full below:
On this Tuesday after Easter our focus is turned toward the first evangelist, Mary Magdalene (John 20:11-18). After reporting to Peter and John on the open tomb that Easter morning and after their visit to the empty tomb, the Magdalene stayed in the area and wept. We are reminded of the Song of Songs (3:1-3): “I sought him but I did not find him. ‘Let me rise then and go about the city, through the streets and squares; let me seek him whom my soul loves….’ The watchmen found me…. ‘Him whom my soul loves—have you seen him?’”
It is the seeking Mary Magdalene who is at the heart of our reflections today. Certainly, God can break through our defenses, but usually there is a need for us to be open to his inbreaking in our lives. For how will we recognize him unless we are seeking him? God could be right in front of us and we could remain oblivious. This awareness of the divine presence is especially necessary if we are to become the messengers of the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus.
Perhaps the Magdalene, once she heard her name, Mary, from the mouth of Jesus, wanted everything to be the way it was before the crucifixion. But such was not to be the case. Jesus told her to let go of that and not cling to the past. Something new had happened and something new was now required. Mary was now to go to the disciples and announce: “I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God” (John 20:17).
Not only was this an announcement of Jesus’ ascension to the right hand of the Father but, even more, it was the fulfillment of what Jesus had told the apostles at the Last Supper. This Father and God was their Father and God inviting the apostles into a lasting communion with himself. The relationship of the human and the divine was now to be on a new level.
And so, Mary Magdalene became the first “apostle,” the first sent to announce this good news. She proclaimed to them, “I have seen the Lord” (John 20:18).
Sisters and brothers, Mary encountered the Risen Lord and her relationship with him was now changed. She became his messenger. This opportunity, this mission, is open to each of us when we seek to know Jesus. Jeremiah (29:13-14) shows us God’s intent: “When you look for me, you will find me. Yes, when you seek me with all your heart, I will let you find me—oracle of the Lord.” So, let us then “Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near” (Isaiah 55:6).