Here is a woman who has seen her Lord condemned to die, abandoned by most of his followers, and put to a criminal's death. She has endured the agony of waiting until after the Sabbath rest to visit His tomb. Her anguish and grief are palpable in the first lines of the Gospel: "Mary stayed outside near the tomb, weeping. Then, still weeping, she stooped to look inside..." She expects to see the Body of Jesus, but finds two angels instead. Still her focus is completely and utterly on Jesus: "They have taken my Lord away and I don't know where they have put him". When she comes face to face with the Risen Christ in His glorified body, she does not recognise Him, but asks "Sir, if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and remove him". Her only concern is to find Jesus. Is that my only concern too? Do I recognise Christ when He stands before me?
When Jesus reveals Himself to her by addressing her by name, we are told that her response is 'Rabbuni', 'Master'. I wonder what was going through her mind? Did she remember His teaching then that He must rise from the dead? Jesus asks her not to cling to Him as He had not yet ascended to heaven, but commissions her with the task of telling the 'brothers' "I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God". In this way, Mary is the 'Apostle to the Apostles'. Am I aware of my baptismal call to be an apostle for the Risen Christ today? In what ways might God be asking me to witness for Him?
Many artists have tried to capture this beautiful scene. Why not take a few moments today to reflect on the Gospel through the 'Noli me tangere' (Do not cling to me) images and Bach's Magnificant BWV 243 in D - 06 'Et Misericordia':