If one thing characterizes Saint Mary Magdalene is that she’s been blessed with the grace on multiple occasions to pass from desperation to hope against all odds. The evangelist Luke says in passing that Our Lord had cast out seven demons from Mary (cf. Luke 8:2): Mary was completely at the mercy of evil, at the hands of spiritual beings well beyond her abilities. Anyone who has lived in the grips of sin or the effects of evil can testify that it is one of the most miserable and powerless states imaginable. In that pit of despair Our Lord came into Mary’s life and rescued her. It’s no wonder that afterwards she would be completely devoted to him and become one of his closest disciples.
Today’s Gospel narrates a second occasion where Mary passed from desperation to hope against all odds. She didn’t understand the teaching that Jesus would rise from the dead. For her, he was gone and she was trying to cope as anyone would at the death of a loved one. When you lose someone you love it leaves a hole in your life that nothing can fill, and visiting the tomb of the beloved is a small way of re-connecting and remembering. Mary was deprived of that, and she was resolved to find Jesus’ remains and pay him the honor and respect he was due after so much cruelty. When it seemed that would be impossible once again Our Lord appeared to her and bore her from the point of despair to hope.
We can venture to say that Mary had one last passage at the end of her life: after persevering in hope, waiting for her Lord to call her to himself, she achieved definitive joy–being with him forever–in Heaven. Mary Magdalene teaches us today that if Our Lord’s action seems to disappear from our lives in the face of evil and suffering we have only to wait in hope, knowing he’ll make his presence felt again. Like Mary let’s be witnesses of all those moments when Our Lord came out of nowhere and lifted us up from despair so that others may persevere in hope as well.
Reading: John 20:1-2, 11-18.