The Resurrected Hope: From Mary Magdalene’s Eyes to Today-Easter Sunday

The Resurrected Hope: From Mary Magdalene’s Eyes to Today-Easter Sunday

Year B, Easter Sunday
March 31, 2024

Year B: Isaiah 25:6-9, 14-25; Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24; Acts 10:34-43; John 20:1-18

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In the profound wonder of this Easter morning, as dawn’s light gently gives way to the beauty of the day, we have gathered as a community of faith. I pray that our hearts brim with joy and hope. 

As we are embraced by the beauty and the fragrant promise of new life that surrounds us in flowers in this sanctuary, we are reminded of the eternal spring that Easter heralds. The music that fills this sacred space is not just sound; it is an expression of our collective joy, a testament to the hope that truly dances in the light of the risen Christ. Today, more than any other day, we celebrate life’s victory over death, love’s triumph over despair. 

Our journey through Lent, a period of reflection and penitence, has prepared us for this moment. The narrative of Holy Week has unfolded—the triumphant entry into Jerusalem, the intimacy of Maundy Thursday and foot washing, the desolation of the cross, and now, the empty tomb, the linchpin of our faith. 

This morning, as we delve into the Gospel according to John, we are invited to view the Resurrection through the devoted and loving eyes of Mary Magdalene, a faithful follower and witness to the miraculous dawn of hope. 

John’s Gospel presents us with a vivid portrait of Mary’s encounter at the tomb. She came, bearing the weight of grief, to perform a final act of love for her teacher and friend, Jesus. She found an empty tomb and a rolled-away stone—an image that has captivated and inspired believers for centuries by speaking to the profound presence of divine mystery. Mary’s initial despair, her running to fetch Peter and the beloved disciple, their subsequent departure, and her solitary return to the tomb encapsulate a journey of faith that we know well—the oscillation between doubt and belief, despair and hope. 

As we reflect on Mary Magdalene’s profound encounter with the risen Christ, we are reminded of the myriad ways this timeless story continues to resonate and inspire. It is not just in the quiet moments of personal reflection or the shared experiences of our community worship that we find meaning, but also in the powerful interpretations of those who have brought the Gospel to life through their unique gifts and talents. 

Yesterday, I heard this timeless story of faith in a captivating recitation by Agnes Moorehead. Agnes Moorehead was a celebrated actress and a masterful orator with advanced degrees in speech, bringing a depth of understanding and emotion to this biblical narrative that is genuinely stirring. Through her profound delivery, I was transported to that garden encounter, feeling the palpable shift from despair to boundless joy as Mary realized whom she was speaking to. Moorehead’s artistry underscores the power of Mary Magdalene’s story to speak across centuries, reminding us of the hope and renewal at the heart of Easter. As I listened to her voice, I experienced the wonder of the Resurrection anew. It allowed this story of redemption and love to resonate anew in my heart. This unique blend of historical faith and modern technology enriched my own Easter reflection, proving once again that Jesus’ core message of love, redemption, and transformation is as relevant and powerful today as they ever were.  

When Jesus died, the people who loved him had no hope. The leader that they were depending upon to be the Messiah was lying dead in a tomb, just like everybody else. They had thought that he’d be different, and it turned out he was just the same as all of us – he’s dead. They must have thought, “There’s no hope for us.”  And yet, they continued to gather; they stayed together. We don’t know why. Then they went to the tomb and found out he was not just like the rest of us. He was gone. His body was gone. How can that be? 

Amid her weeping, Mary encounters two angels and Jesus himself, though she does not recognize him. “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Jesus asks. It is not until he calls her by name, “Mary,” that the scales fall from her eyes, and she recognizes her Rabboni, her teacher. 

This moment of recognition is at the heart of our Easter celebration. It reminds us that the risen Christ calls each of us by name, out of our own tombs of fear, doubt, and despair, into the light of hope and new life. 

Mary Magdalene’s transformation from mourner to messenger, from one who seeks to one who is sent, echoes the transformative journey of Easter itself. She is instructed to go and tell the disciples, becoming the apostle to the apostles. In this, we see the overturning of societal norms and the affirmation of the role of women as bearers of the Good News. Mary’s witness and proclamation underscore the radical inclusivity of Jesus’ Resurrection. It is a call to all, regardless of gender, status, or background, to be witnesses to the hope and transformation found in Christ. 

The readings from Isaiah, the Psalms, and Acts accompanying our Gospel today weave together hope and salvation. Isaiah speaks of a feast for all peoples, a vision of abundance and joy that shatters the finality of death. The Psalmist sings of the stone rejected by the builders becoming the cornerstone of a new creation. And in Acts, Peter proclaims the message of Jesus Christ to all, emphasizing that God shows no partiality. Together, these readings affirm the universal scope of Easter’s message: hope is not confined; it is as boundless as God’s love. 

As we reflect on the significance of Mary Magdalene’s encounter with the risen Christ, let us also consider our own encounters with the divine. Where are we being called by name, out of our places of darkness and into the light of understanding and faith? How are we being sent forth to proclaim the good news of Resurrection in our lives and communities? 

The Resurrection of Jesus is not a remote story of a bygone moment; it is a statement about what is true for you, me, and everyone still navigating that long and often wearisome journey in search of something other than goodbye. Easter Day is the answer for everyone who struggles to love, has loved and lost, and feels confused about love. 

We cannot explain it. We need not explain it. Because neither can we explain our compulsion to love, even in the face of loss and uncertainty, and yet we do. 

Easter is a celebration of life, love, and liberation. It challenges us to embrace the transformative power of the Resurrection in every aspect of our lives. It invites us to be agents of hope, bearers of light, and heralds of a new creation grounded in justice, peace, and love. Like Mary Magdalene, let us proclaim joyfully, “I have seen the Lord!” Let our lives be a testament to the love, hope, and renewal that Easter brings. 

For what is loved is resurrected. 

Just like Jesus. And just like you. 

For Christ is risen; Christ is risen indeed! Alleluia!