Mary stayed outside the tomb weeping. And as she wept, she bent over into the tomb and saw two angels in white sitting there, one at the head and one at the feet where the Body of Jesus had been. John 20:11–12
Early in His ministry, Jesus cast seven demons out of Mary of Magdala. As a result, she became an exceptionally faithful follower of Jesus. She was most likely one of His followers who provided for Jesus and the disciples out of her own resources as they traveled. She listened to His teachings, witnessed His miracles, was present when He was condemned, stood at the foot of the Cross with Jesus’ mother, helped to prepare His body for burial and was the first person recorded in Scripture to whom Jesus appeared after His Resurrection.
The Gospel for today’s Mass tells the story of Mary going to the tomb early Sunday morning to complete the anointing of Jesus’ dead body as He laid in the tomb. But much to her surprise, the tomb was empty. Therefore, she ran to tell the Apostles, which makes Mary Magdalene the first of His followers to witness to the Resurrection. After telling the Apostles, she returned to the tomb with Peter and John; and, after Peter and John left, she remained outside the tomb weeping, as is mentioned in the Gospel passage quoted above.
Mary’s tears are beautiful. They are an expression of her deep devotion to her Lord. She did not yet understand that He had risen, but her fidelity to Jesus is a testimony to her love. Jesus had restored her dignity. He freed her from the seven demons who tormented her. She most likely had been a sinful woman in the past, but now she was singly devoted to the Savior of the World.
The witness of Mary of Magdala is one that should inspire us all. Though few people are possessed by seven demons, we are all tormented in one way or another. We all sin. We all are weak. We all have a past we regret. And we all are invited to do better. Mary’s “better” was a life that was given to Jesus with the utmost fidelity. She didn’t care if the authorities saw her at the foot of the Cross. If they were to persecute her as a result, it did not matter. She was faithful. She didn’t care if the soldiers would have harassed her when she went to the tomb to anoint the body of Jesus—she only thought of that last act of love she could offer Him. And when she saw Jesus risen and thought He was the gardener, she didn’t care if He saw her heartbroken and in tears—she only wanted to see the body of her Lord.
As a result of her unwavering fidelity, Jesus gave her a gift beyond imagination. He appeared to her, after being resurrected from the dead, and sent her to be an apostle to the Apostles. He sent her to go to the Apostles to tell them that Jesus had risen and that He was preparing to go to His Father in Heaven.
Reflect, today, upon the holy soul of this woman. She was a repentant sinner who turned her whole life around. She devoted everything to Jesus and, in return, received even more. In Heaven, Mary Magdalene will forever cling to Jesus and adore His Sacred Heart. May we all strive to imitate her by turning from our own life of sin and becoming unwaveringly faithful to our Lord.
My resurrected Lord, You appeared first to Mary of Magdala after Your Resurrection. You now invite her to share in Your glorious life in Heaven. Help me to learn from her by turning away from all sin and becoming deeply devoted to You. May my fidelity to You, dear Lord, be absolute and unwavering, so that I, too, will one day share in the glory of Your Resurrection. Jesus, I trust in You.