DAILY READINGS AND REFLECTION
Tuesday, Octave of Easter – 14 April 2020
Acts 2:36-41 – You must repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus
ON the day of Pentecost, Peter spoke to the Jews: ‘The whole House of Israel can be certain that God has made this Jesus whom you crucified both Lord and Christ.’
Hearing this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the apostles, ‘What must we do, brothers?’ ‘You must repent,’ Peter answered ‘and every one of you must be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
‘The promise that was made is for you and your children, and for all those who are far away, for all those whom the Lord our God will call to himself.’ He spoke to them for a long time using many arguments, and he urged them, ‘Save yourselves from this perverse generation.’
They were convinced by his arguments, and they accepted what he said and were baptised. That very day about three thousand were added to their number.
John 20:11-18 – ‘I have seen the Lord and he has spoken to me’
MARY stayed outside near the tomb, weeping. Then, still weeping, she stooped to look inside, and saw two angels in white sitting where the body of Jesus had been, one at the head, the other at the feet.
They said, ‘Woman, why are you weeping?’ ‘They have taken my Lord away’ she replied ‘and I don’t know where they have put him.’ As she said this she turned round and saw Jesus standing there, though she did not recognise him.
Jesus said, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? Who are you looking for?’ Supposing him to be the gardener, she said, ‘Sir, if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and remove him.’
Jesus said, ‘Mary!’ She knew him then and said to him in Hebrew, ‘Rabbuni!’ – which means Master.
Jesus said to her, ‘Do not cling to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go and find the brothers, and tell them: I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ So Mary of Magdala went and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord and that he had said these things to her.
IT is well to note that during weekdays throughout the Easter season the Acts of the Apostles is read daily in a semi-continuous way. The gospel readings, however, focus on the appearances of the Risen Lord and reflection on who He is to us. In this sense, the two readings are independent and not directly related thematically.
Mary of Magdala is at central stage in today’s Resurrection account. Despite some apparent variants, scholars believe she was the first to meet the Risen Lord. St. Mark 16:9 specifically says that she was alone and the first to witness the Resurrection early on the first day of the week.
Who was Mary of Magdala? Probably from the town of Magdala by the Lake of Galilee, from whom seven demons had been driven out by the Lord, she was an early follower of Jesus when He started His public ministry in Galilee.
Likely a woman of some wealth, she was together with some other women who were accompanying the Lord and supported His ministry from their own resources.
Through the centuries, however, Mary of Magdala has been mistakenly confused with the woman who was a “great sinner”, the woman with the alabaster jar, the “prostitute” etc, and often seen as a model of conversion from sexual immorality. This is not really the correct view of Mary of Magdala.
What’s clear about Mary is her faithfulness. She was with the Lord at the early state of His ministry, was with Him throughout His preaching right to the foot of the cross, and the first to visit the tomb and met the Risen Lord.
By her behaviour she showed that she was one who understood and believed in the Lord. There is a strong Christian tradition that Mary of Magdala is the “Apostle of Apostles”. She was faithfully with the Lord right through up to the tomb. The Risen Lord chose and sent her to announce His Resurrection to Peter and the other apostles.
In today’s gospel, Mary most candidly displayed her devoted and total love of Jesus:
“As she said this she turned round and saw Jesus standing there, though she did not recognise him. Jesus said, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? Who are you looking for?’ Supposing him to be the gardener, she said, ‘Sir, if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and remove him.’”
A woman, alone, powerless, all that Mary wanted was to have the body of Jesus back! And in her innocence and utter desperation she even wanted to take it back from the gardener! When she eventually recognized the Lord, she couldn’t stop clinging to Him. Such was her joy, the culminating and ecstatic reward for her faith in Him.
The Lord told her to pass on this momentous Announcement to the brothers: “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.”
Jesus chose and sent Mary of Magdala to announce that His Resurrection has made His God our God, His Father our Father!!! Destroying death, the Lord has brought us back to God, to God our Father! She was the Apostle of the Resurrection.
Will we act like apostles, chosen and sent, to announce that the Lord is Risen, that He is alive, that God is once again our God and our Father?
Peter in the first reading sounded exactly like Jesus when He first proclaimed the Coming of the Kingdom in Galilee: “Repent and believe in the Good News”! Three thousand repented, baptized to be the People of God, Children of the Father!
Cover image: Appearance of Jesus Christ to Maria Magdalena (1835) by Alexander Andreyevich Ivanov.
Quote image: Noli me tangere fresco by Fra Angelico