First, a word on Mary Magdalene. It is important to correct a fake news story that has lingered in the church for hundreds, if not more than a thousand years. Mary of Magdalene is not the woman caught in adultery. For too long, there has been a combination of several stories of the women of the Gospel into this Mary. But, there is really no evidence for this. In fact, not only is Mary Magdalene not a prostitute, she was likely a very well placed woman in her culture which was notable for a time when women did not have much of a place aside from the men they were attached to. We know this even by her name. She is not Mary, the wife of so-and-so, or the daughter of that man, or the sister of another. She has a name all her own, Mary of Magdala, a sign that she was an influential woman in the city of Magdala. Talk about a lingering case of "fake news!"
By this, I don't mean that she had the luck of the draw to be in the right place at the right time; rather Mary was there through it all. I think of the hymn Were You There? that we sung throughout Lent and so prominently during Holy Week. This could be Mary Magdalene's hymn. Were you there when Jesus preached to the crows? Mary was there. Were you there when he cured the sick and even raised the dead? Mary was there. Were you there when he was arrested and scourged at the pillar? Mary was there. Were you there when he walked the path to Calvary carrying the weight of the cross and the weight of our sins? Mary was there. Were you there as Jesus died for us, was taken down from the Cross, and laid in a tomb? Mary was there. Were you there when they rolled the stone away and Jesus exited risen from the dead as He promised? Mary was there.
Mary Magdalene in fact shows herself to be the most faithful of all the disciples. She never wavered, she never doubted, she never ran. Mary was there. Even as the other disciples denied, ran, or hid in fear, Mary remained faithful to the Lord whom she loved.
And so it is no wonder that Jesus would reward that fidelity by appearing first to the woman who was there for Him through it all. For all of her faithfulness throughout His public life, Mary of Magdala saw the Risen Lord before the world.
May we be inspired by her faithfulness and know that if we too remain close to Jesus, we will also be given the grace of seeing Him. St. Mary Magdalene, pray for us!
May the Lord give you peace!