‘I have seen the Lord…’
[This is the eighth of the 11 Resurrectional Gospel readings of Matins]
The drama of the disciples’ struggle following Christ’s death continues with the solitary anguish of Mary Magdalene standing at the empty tomb and weeping. The two men in white that Luke had described guarding the grave turn out to be angels. Revelation begins to dawn for Mary, but, as is often the case in our lives, when our eyes have been long in sleep, waking can be slow.
‘Woman, why are you weeping?’ The question rings out twice, first from the angelic guard and then from none other than Jesus Himself. Or is it just the gardener? Mary is confused, still earth-bound in sight and spirit. The Lord’s body has been stolen, she thinks, and is interested only in the status of his temporal corpse.
The question emerges again, as so often in the Resurrectional accounts, as to the nature of the Risen Lord. He is both recognizable, having a body bearing the marks of the nails of the Crucified One, yet also with an uncanny appearance.
Mary’s case of mistaken identity is thus understandable. But then, she and the Risen Lord exchange these words:
Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, ‘Rabbouni!’ (which means Teacher).
This is the call of the Good Shepherd and the response of a member of His flock.
When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice (John 10:4)
Yet Mary is but partly the way to comprehension. She tries to cling to the earthly Jesus she knew, but our past is best left behind in the newness of resurrectional life, now approaching fulfillment with the coming Ascension of Our Lord and the Descent of the Holy Spirit..
even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way (2 Cor. 5:16)
As the scene ends, we prepare for more drama in the upper room. But for Mary, the journey is complete.
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.