More Than the World Has to Offer

Mary Magdalene stayed outside the tomb weeping.
And as she wept, she bent over into the tomb
and saw two angels in white sitting there,
one at the head and one at the feet
where the Body of Jesus had been.
And they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?”
She said to them, “They have taken my Lord,
and I don’t know where they laid him.”
When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus there,
but did not know it was Jesus.
Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?
Whom are you looking for?”
She thought it was the gardener and said to him,
“Sir, if you carried him away,
tell me where you laid him,
and I will take him.”
Jesus said to her, “Mary!”
She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni,”
which means Teacher.
Jesus said to her, “Stop holding on to me,
for I have not yet ascended to the Father.
But go to my brothers and tell them,
‘I am going to my Father and your Father,
to my God and your God.'”
Mary went and announced to the disciples,
“I have seen the Lord,”
and then reported what he had told her.
(John 20:11-18)

Scripture Study

20:11–18 This appearance to Mary is found only in John, but cf. Mt 28:8–10 and Mk 16:9–11.

20:16 Rabbouni: Hebrew or Aramaic for “my master.”

20:17 Stop holding on to me: see Mt 28:9 where the women take hold of his feet. I have not yet ascended: for John and many of the New Testament writers, the ascension in the theological sense of going to the Father to be glorified took place with the resurrection as one action. This scene in John dramatizes such an understanding, for by Easter night Jesus is glorified and can give the Spirit. Therefore his ascension takes place immediately after he has talked to Mary. In such a view, the ascension after forty days described in Acts 1:1–11 would be simply a termination of earthly appearances or, perhaps better, an introduction to the conferral of the Spirit upon the early church, modeled on Elisha’s being able to have a (double) share in the spirit of Elijah if he saw him being taken up (same verb as ascending) into heaven (2 Kgs 2:9–12). To my Father and your Father, to my God and your God: this echoes Ruth 1:16: “Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.” The Father of Jesus will now become the Father of the disciples because, once ascended, Jesus can give them the Spirit that comes from the Father and they can be reborn as God’s children (Jn 3:5). That is why he calls them my brothers.

Scripture Reflection

Friends, today’s Gospel reveals St. John’s report of Mary Magdalene’s encounter with the risen Jesus. An interesting lesson follows from the disquieting fact of the Resurrection, namely that this world is not it. What I mean is that this world is not all that there is. We live our lives with the reasonable assumption that the natural world as we’ve come to know it is the final framework of our lives and activities. And one of the most powerful and frightening features of the common-sense world is death. Every living thing dies and stays dead.

But what if death and dissolution did not have the final say? What if, through God’s power, and according to his providence, a “new heavens and a new earth” were being born? The resurrection of Jesus from the dead shows as definitively as possible that God is up to something greater than we had imagined or thought possible.

And therefore we don’t have to live as though death were our master. In light of the Resurrection, we can begin to see this world as a place of gestation, a place of growth and maturation toward something higher, more permanent, and more splendid.

-Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.