We continue our Johnannine resurrection journey with the candlelight flickering upon the corner table barely large enough for two in close quarters. This is the anti-social distance resurrection story, and if my interpretation shocks you, well…..good. While I have never ascribed to the wild inferences of a physical relationship between Mary Magdalene and Jesus, I’ve also never denied that they enjoyed a close friendship either! And here it is, raw and relatively undisturbed by John’s habitual commentary. Peter and BD run, Peter and BD marvel, explore, look inside, go inside, and run home. Right past the figure whose heart is broken and bewildered, one whose only wish is to grieve in peace. Read John 20:11-18. As Luke’s Mary ponders all of these things and holds them in her heart at Luke’s beginning, so John’s Mary will also ponder all of these things at the end of the Fourth Gospel. What she receives is amazing! What love she displays!
Image credit: Gino Santa Maria Art
Mary sees two angels the two men never saw! (Men…honestly. Later Jesus gets their attention with a meal. Men.) They ask her why she’s weeping (tomb side? Really?) but don’t say another word as the Risen Jesus waits to appear first, not to Peter or even to BD, but alone, intimate, close to Mary. Her grief is so overwhelming she cannot recognize Him (a consistent resurrection motif to which we shall return in due course) until He simply, lovingly, calls her by name. And she knows. She knows. And she has the presence of mind to not blurt out what most of us would, something like OMG!! OH MY HOLY GOD! I CANNOT (delete) BELIEVE MY (delete this also) EYES! No. Mary is cool like late night jazz, this one. She responds with a respectful, measured, constrained Rabbouni, a title which holds a universe of expression even in translation. My teacher, my mentor, my guide. She recognizes Him and accepts Him now as she did before. Jesus entrusts Mary with the message not of implied resurrection that Peter and BD carry (Empty Tomb must mean this!) but eyewitness testimony (He called me by name and I heard and saw Him!). The Johnannine Mary of Magdala becomes the Apostle to the Apostles, teaching them that Jesus is both here and simultaneously ascending. She cannot hold Him. He tells her that. But she can enjoy her Tomb Garden Table for Two off in the corner.
- Do you find the intimacy of this scene surprising, shocking, disturbing or comforting?!
- Have you ever experienced this level of intimacy with the Risen Jesus? If not, would you like to? Using our Ignatian Spiritual Exercises why not have your own moment with Jesus in garden surrounding the Empty Tomb?!
- How are we intimate in this season of distancing and isolation?! With whom are we connected beyond physical proximity? Do we have a Mary (or a Jesus) in our lives to call us by name?!