Mary Magdalene First Witness to the Resurrection Easter Sunday (Year C)

Mary Magdalene First Witness to the Resurrection Easter Sunday (Year C)

            When Jesus walked the face of this earth, he befriended a number of women including three who followed him closely: Susanna, Joanna the wife of Chuza, and Mary Magdalene.

         All three of these women followed Jesus out of gratitude for being healed by him. Mary Magdalene’s illness was demonic possession. Jesus healed her by casting “seven demons (Luke 8:2 RSV)” out of her.

         Even though seven devils once made their home in Mary Magdalene, the risen Jesus, surprisingly, appearing to her first, before he appeared to the Apostles. Mary Magdalene also was chosen by Jesus to be the first to proclaim that He had risen from the dead. For this reason, Mary Magdalene is called the Apostle to the Apostles. 

In recognition of Mary Magdalene’s important collaborative role in salvation history Pope Francis changed the memorial of St. Mary Magdalene to the rank of a Feast. The papal decree explains this change with, “it is right that the liturgical celebration of this woman [Mary Magdalene] should have the same rank of Feast as that given to the celebration of the Apostles”.[1]

         Jesus chose to appear to Mary Magdalene first and chose her to be the first to announce the Good News of His Resurrection from the dead because God’s ways are not man’s ways (Isaiah 55:8).

         Repeatedly, St. Paul teaches, God chooses “what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, God [chooses] what is low and despised in the world (1 Corinthians 1:28 RSV)”. Why does God act contrary to worldly wisdom? St. Paul explains, because “the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men (1 Corinthians 1:25 RSV).”

         Similarly, Pope Emeritus, echoing the teaching of a 16thcentury Cardinal, wrote, “that the man most suited to become the pope is the one who, from the perspective of a human choice of candidates, would be considered the least qualified in terms of the ideals of political shrewdness and executive power. The more a man resembles the Lord and thus (objectively) recommends himself as a candidate, the less human reason considers him capable of governing, because reason cannot fathom humiliation or the Cross.”[2]

         Today, in participation in the risen life of Jesus Christ may we think more with the mind of Jesus, and love more through the heart of Jesus. In so doing we will see all of reality as brimming with possibilities, and with these new eyes and new heart when we meet a brother or sister who seems almost hopeless, to look beyond this first impression to all the potential unseen goodness that God is calling to be released, activated, and fulfilled in life, fulfilled in the life of Christ. 

God Bless,

Fr Peter

Domenico Tintoretto [Public domain], Google Art Project, “TINTORETTO – Magdalena penitente (Musei Capitolini, Roma, 1598-1602) – copia,” https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:TINTORETTO_-_Magdalena_penitente_(Musei_Capitolini,_Roma,_1598-1602)_-_copia.jpg

El Greco [Public domain], ZwGVT6gnhimrcg at Google Cultural Institute, “Penitent Magdalene (c. 1576-1578) by El Greco,”https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:El_Greco_-_The_Penitent_Magdalene_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg.

Henryk Siemiradzki [Public domain], “Christ with Martha and Maria,” https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Semiradsky_Christ_Martha_Maria.jpg, This photographic reproduction is therefore also considered to be in the public domain in the United States. In other jurisdictions, re-use of this content may be restricted.

Arthur Roche, Archbishop Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, “Apostle of the Apostles,” vatican.va, http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/ccdds/documents/articolo-roche-maddalena_en.pdf

Joseph Ratzinger, Church, Ecumenism and Politics: New Endeavors in Ecclesiology(San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2008), 49. Ratzinger is referring to Cardinal Pole’s debate with Henry VIII.


[1]Arthur Roche, Archbishop Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, “Apostle of the Apostles,” vatican.va, http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/ccdds/documents/articolo-roche-maddalena_en.pdf.

[2]Joseph Ratzinger, Church, Ecumenism and Politics: New Endeavors in Ecclesiology(San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2008), 49. Ratzinger is referring to Cardinal Pole’s debate with Henry VIII.


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