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Mary Magdalene stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. They said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping?’ She said to them, ‘They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.’ When she had said this, she turned round and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? For whom are you looking?’ Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Mary!’ She turned and said to him in Hebrew, ‘Rabbouni!’ (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, ‘Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” ’ Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, ‘I have seen the Lord’; and she told them that he had said these things to her.
Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples: ‘I have seen the Lord’.
The story of Jesus’ earthly ministry begins with his mother, Mary, saying: My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour … Then we hear Zechariah’s prophecy in which he says: And you, child, will be call the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way … Simeon says: Lord, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word. As the narrative of Jesus’ life unfolds we encounter many moments of proclamation until we arrive at today’s reading when Mary Magdalene also proclaims the truth that she has seen her risen Lord.
All who profess a faith in Jesus Christ are called to preach the gospel. But, for many, this calling gives rise to feelings of apprehension and fear. They try to picture themselves as standing on street corners, waving bibles and preaching to passing strangers. Alternatively, they look at clergy and try to see themselves standing in pulpits and delivering learned, or not so learned, sermons. Whatever image might spring into one’s mind, the thought of proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ is nearly always accompanied with feelings of dread. But, should we be so apprehensive in such matters?
There is a popular quotation that is attributed to St Francis of Assisi. He is reputed to have said: Preach the Gospel at all times, and if necessary use words. In reality, there is no evidence that Francis ever said these words, but they do contain a powerful message. People have tried to water down this message by suggesting that the gospel cannot be preached without words, but that is just further prevarication. As Jesus himself taught us we are preaching the gospel every time we give food to the hungry, water to the thirsty, shelter to the homeless, and so on. We are called, first and foremost to preach the gospel through our deeds of love and service. But, that does not mean that we are absolved from the responsibility of speaking about our faith!
Today we hear of Mary Magdalene announcing: I have seen the Lord. Let us pray that we might never hesitate in announcing our relationship with the risen Christ. Let us pray that as we love and serve in his name we might also share the Good News that others might join us in being true and faithful apostles. Let us pray that we might always live our faith in a way that shines the light of Christ into the dark corners of this world.