Today, on this Tuesday of Easter Week, the readings celebrate the Risen Christ. First the excerpt from Acts has Peter proclaiming that Jesus is Lord God and Savior. He tells us to “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation” – a line that seems to apply to our twenty-first century as well as to Peter’s audience. In fact, for all our culture’s self-help projects – diets, exercise plans, do-it-yourself remodeling – perhaps I need reminding that faith is also something I do, I choose, for myself. The Psalm sings “The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord,” and each day I can personally choose to believe that the world is redeemed and renewed by the Risen Christ.
Then the Gospel has the lovely Easter scene of Mary Magdalene at the tomb, ending with her reporting the fact of Christ’s Resurrection to the disciples. Recently I heard a great talk about Mary Magdalene given by Dr. Susan Calef of Creighton’s theology department. For centuries, Mary Magdalene’s image has been that of the former sinner, perhaps “the woman taken in adultery.” For example, in earlier times, women in an institution for “unwed mothers” here in Omaha were called “the Magdalenes.” Sue Calef explained that early in Church history several women mentioned in New Testament books were mixed together into the Mary Magdalene image – which had the nice result of saying that even the sinner can become a great saint. However, she said the Bible texts actually don’t support that identification; what they tell us is that Mary Magdalene is an independent woman (but probably not a notorious sinner) who is one of Jesus’s closest friends. She is “Apostle to the Apostles,” and an important role model for Christians today; she is faithfully with Jesus in his Passion and at his Resurrection.
The grieving Mary Magdalene sees the angels, and then she sees, but does not at first recognize the Risen Christ. Jesus calls her name; she recognizes him, and she calls him “Teacher. This is the “Nolo me tangere” or “Do not touch me” scene between Jesus and Mary Magdalene as depicted in various works in traditional art history. From Sue Calef or somehow I’ve heard that the original Greek words are more like “Do not interfere with me,” and so our translation today is like “Do not hold onto me,” as Jesus is not yet Ascended into Heaven. But he gives Mary Magdalene her work to do: “Go to my brothers and tell them…”
Today I pray that I may follow Mary Magdalene’s example:
that I may hear Jesus, in some way, call me personally, “by
name,” and may recognize him and call him “Teacher”
– and that I may in some way hear him tell me what work I
have to do for him on this Tuesday of Easter Week.
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