Memory of the Saints and the Prophets

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Memorial of Mary Magdalene. She announced to the disciples that the Lord was risen.

Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

You are a chosen race,
a royal priesthood, a holy nation,
a people acquired by God
to proclaim his marvellous works.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

John 20, 1.11-18

It was very early on the first day of the week and still dark, when Mary of Magdala came to the tomb. She saw that the stone had been moved away from the tomb

But Mary was standing outside near the tomb, weeping. Then, as she wept, she stooped to look inside,

and saw two angels in white sitting where the body of Jesus had been, one at the head, the other at the feet.

They said, 'Woman, why are you weeping?' 'They have taken my Lord away,' she replied, 'and I don't know where they have put him.'

As she said this she turned round and saw Jesus standing there, though she did not realise that it was Jesus.

Jesus said to her, 'Woman, why are you weeping? Who are you looking for?' Supposing him to be the gardener, she said, 'Sir, if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and remove him.'

Jesus said, 'Mary!' She turned round then and said to him in Hebrew, 'Rabbuni!' -- which means Master.

Jesus said to her, 'Do not cling to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to the brothers, and tell them: I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'

So Mary of Magdala told the disciples, 'I have seen the Lord,' and that he had said these things to her.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

You will be holy,
because I am holy, thus says the Lord.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Today the liturgy commemorates Mary Magdalene. A woman from Magdala, she met Jesus, who freed her from “seven demons.” At that moment she began to follow him and never abandoned him, neither while he was alive nor dead. The Gospel presents her to us standing beside the empty tomb and weeping. They had taken her Lord away. The loss of the only person who had understood her in the previous years had made her run and driven her to search for him, even though he was dead. How little we cry at the loss of the Lord! Mary, instead, is inconsolable. She asks everyone where Jesus is: the two angels and the “gardener.” She is completely set on finding him. Nothing else interests her. She is still an example of the true believer in search of the Lord. She even asks the “gardener.” She sees Jesus with her eyes, but she does not recognize him until he calls her by name. The same thing happens to us with the Gospel. It is not our eyes that allow us to recognize Jesus, but his voice. That sound, that tone, that name pronounced so tenderly, which had touched her heart so many times, now cast down the barriers and allows Mary to recognize her Teacher. To listen to him even just once means never to abandon him. We cannot forget the voice of Christ (the Gospel). Even if we just hear it for an instant, we can never turn our back on it. Familiarity with the words of the Gospel is familiarity with the Lord: that is how we can see and encounter him. Mary throws herself at Jesus’ feet and embraces him with the heart-wrenching affection of someone who has found the decisive person of his or her life. But Jesus says, “Do not hold on to me... But go to my brothers.” Gospel love is an energy that that pushes us to go beyond. It was not guaranteed that she would run to the apostles. Jesus entrusts the first news of his resurrection to a weak woman, with a difficult past. She could have been afraid that no one would have believed her or that they might even have insulted her, just as we often think that it is crazy to believe that love is stronger than death, that tears can be wiped away, or that life can overcome death. Mary once again listened to the voice of the teacher and was even happier than ever as she ran towards the disciples to announce to them all, “I have seen the Lord!” The encounter with Jesus puts everything into motion. Everything we are given is not meant for us alone, but for many. The believer cannot keep happiness for him or herself, but must go out towards all. And quickly! She, the sinner, had become the first to announce the Gospel. She is not afraid, because she has been strengthened by the words of Jesus. That is what it means to be a believer: to testify with one’s life to a hope that does not disappoint. This is why the Byzantine tradition calls her “the apostle of the apostles.”