Don’t you just hate it when you’re too hot and feeling crabby and someone tells you to chill out!? Chill out!? Chill out!? You must be joking! It’s like when you’re stressed about something and someone says, calm down…seriously!
I sometimes wonder if that’s how Mary Magdalene felt after she realized Jesus was not the gardener on that first Easter morning. “Why are you crying? Who are you looking for?” Are you serious!?
Since the feast of Mary Magdalene on the 22nd (transferred here at St. James’ to the Tuesday), I’ve been thinking a lot about her. To me, she seems to have been the perfect example of true faith and transformation into a missional disciple of Christ.
Jesus drives out her demons and frees her to follow him, which she does. She is there at the cross. She sees her saviour, teacher and friend whom she loves brutally murdered and then seeks to tend to his body, caring for him in death after the twelve have fled. Then on discovering his body is missing, she cannot leave. In her grief she stays near the tomb weeping and after all she’s been through, Jesus asks, “Why are you weeping?”
After all this, Mary is the first to be sent out. The apostle to the Apostles. Only she who has been faithful to the end and beyond was fit to be the first to declare “I have seen the Lord!”
I know for myself when I am grieving the death of someone I love, I find myself stuck in that garden where Mary thought Jesus was the gardener. Eyes puffy with tears, lost and not knowing which way to turn. Why didn’t she recognize him? There are lots of theories about that, but I think in our simple human way of grieving, it can be hard to see the joy and beauty of the resurrection when grief has hold of us. It can blind us to what is, and that’s OK.
The truth is that as Mary was the first to witness the resurrection and carry the good news of Jesus Christ risen, Jesus was the first to overcome death and the grave and lead us into the love of God. As we follow Jesus in this life and journey to the next, we will all have our time in the garden like Mary. Let us hold each other gently in these times because grief will visit us all at some point, and we know why we are weeping.