The encounter between Mary Magdalene and Jesus in our gospel for Easter Sunday is a brilliant dramatization, full of emotion and wonder.
The suspense builds up as we wait for Jesus to reveal himself to Mary, who is ignorant of his resurrection. Jesus is on his way to ascend “to my Father and to your Father, to my God and to your God.” In other words, Jesus is about to ascend to his heavenly Father and receive from him the gift of the Holy Spirit which he will pour out on his Church, and begin the outreach to the world. This is the fulfilment of his mission on earth. But even as he prepares to embark on this, he notices that Mary is weeping beside the empty tomb, convinced that someone has taken the body of Jesus from the tomb.
Now Jesus could have said to himself: “It doesn’t matter, Mary will find out soon enough that I have risen” or he could have said to himself “It is more important for me to return to my Father to receive the Holy Spirit and fulfil my mission.” But he does none of this. What he does is to say to his Father “I am sorry, Father, but I have to interrupt my mission, because someone down there, whom I care about, is grieving over my death. I have to reassure her now. Then I will return and carry out the rest of my mission.”
The gospel of John, which is the version of the resurrection of Jesus which we listen to on Easter Sunday, speaks to us about love. It is the disciple “whom Jesus loves” who is the first to come to the empty tomb and to believe that Jesus has risen. It is Mary Magdalene, who out of love remains weeping by the empty tomb, who has the first revelation of the risen Jesus. It is those who love Jesus, and whom Jesus loves, who will celebrate the Easter story with the greatest joy.
Happy Easter to all our parishioners!!