Grace to you!
Ever wondered why of all the followers of Jesus, Mary Magdalene was singled out by St. John as the first witness of the Resurrection? This was strange in a patriarchal culture as was the case during the time of the Apostles. Hear the Scripture narrate the story:
Now on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb (John 20:1).
This and the verses that follow were the first of eleven appearances of Jesus to his disciples between the Easter Sunday and the Ascension Thursday. Jesus appeared to individuals and groups. Once he appeared to a crowd of about five hundred. Resurrection was a fact and not a hallucination.
Though synoptic writers namely, Matthew, Mark and Luke suggest the number of women including Mary of Magdalene varied from two to four, Mary Magdalene’s name was constantly mentioned in all four gospels as the first witness of the Resurrection. She was an incredible believer in Jesus.
The women went to see the tomb, or as the Gospels of Mark (16:1) and Luke (24:1) explained, to anoint the body of Jesus. This was a Jewish practice, a kind and holy gesture in honor of the dead. They couldn’t afford to do it a night before because it was the Sabbath. The women, in this case, Mary Magdalene, were devout Jews who never wanted to defile the law of the Sabbath. However, their love for Jesus was not to be stifled by death or the Law.
Nothing is as pious as to assume that the women believed Jesus would resurrect. They, like the apostles, didn’t. They simply wanted to anoint their dead Lord and bring closure to the sad event.
So, no sooner was it dawn than they journeyed to the tomb. Guess what? The large stone rolled over the tomb of Jesus was already removed. Here was the first miraculous sight at the Resurrection?
The Gospel of Mark gives a peculiar context about the worries of the women as they went to the tomb: “Who will roll away the stone for us from the door of the tomb?” (Mark 16:3)
As many ask during the most despairing moments of their lives, “Who will roll the stone,” “From where shall my help come?” Mary Magdalene with the other women was worried as well.
Easter is a permanent reminder that the stone has been rolled away for us to see the empty tomb. Never again will our hope be interned. In fact, the stone is no longer upon the tomb in our life. It’s by the Lord’s Resurrection that this has been done and it’s marvelous in our eyes.
A heavy stone covering the tomb was once rolled by the command of the Savior Jesus Christ at Cana, when he asked the mourners at Lazarus’s tomb to roll the stone. The same Lord and Savior wouldn’t want a stone laid upon the miracle of the Resurrection. The angels would roll the stone at his behest for God will not allow His loved ones, like Mary Magdalene and you, not to see that inside the tomb, a new hope has dawn—Resurrection.
Rejoice, believer in the resurrection.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
Father Maurice Emelu PhD., provides a daily blog of reflections based on the bible readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration and developing your own thoughts. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.