Mary Magdalena went to Jesus’ tomb with the intention of finishing the cleaning and embalming of Jesus’ cadaver. I am sure she walked to the tomb crying and carrying all that she needed to attend to death. In the dark of the early morning, she finds the stone to the tomb moved. Her response is to run back to the disciples to announce this information. She returns to the tomb with John and Peter. Now we see three very different and interesting responses to the empty tomb. Peter arrives later but enters the tomb first. He looks around taking note of everything – probably wondering, scratching his head. John, who arrived first, enters the tomb after Peter. He saw and believed! He suddenly understood the meaning of “raise from the dead”. The two, return to the city: Peter still scratching his head and John with a deep belief in his heart. There is no indication that either announced this news or began to proclaim the resurrection that morning.
Mary Magdalena had a different experience. After the men left, she continued crying. Still crying she looks into the tomb through her tears. Tears of grief, tears of loss, tears of love for Jesus, tears of joy for the pardon she received from Jesus, tears for the new teaching she received from Jesus, tears for the hope she had placed in Jesus. Looking through the prism of those tears she peers into the tomb and sees something new. Now two men in the tomb ask her why she is crying. She makes a profession of faith: they have taken my Lord, my love, the center of my being (remember today’s first reading from the Song of Songs). She turns and sees Jesus without recognizing Him. She makes a second proclamation of faith and says she wants to take care of Jesus (still thinking of a cadaver).
Once Jesus calls her by name, she responds with recognition: Teacher. Jesus tells her to stop clinging to Him and go and announce the resurrection. She becomes the first announcer of the resurrection. She is the apostle to the apostles.
Pope Francis says that like Mary Magdalena’s tears – tears of repentance, grief, love, and faith can refocus our lives – our tears can become tears of faith that push us to refocus our lives. Christians are not called to cling, to be seated around the tomb, nor to feel warm and happy with the risen Christ. Christians are called to live running on the road, on the way with Mary Magdalena announcing our experience of the risen Christ to others.
The risen Christ says to Mary Magdalena and us: Stop clinging; go; announce!