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Redemption: A Narrative of Mary Magdalene

This is the third of three reflections for Holy Week

A reflection for Holy Week by Lucinda MacArthur

I stumbled over the uneven ground in the darkness. It was still early, but I wanted, needed, to reach the tomb. I needed to be with my Lord, even if it was with just His body. The air was cool and there was a breeze. It promised to be a beautiful day. But what does it matter? My Lord is dead. He said it Himself, “It is finished.” My fists clenched in anguish as my steps grew faster. What does that even mean?

The numbness that had set in the evening after the crucifixion had rested heavily on all of us all through the Sabbath. We had gone about our day as if in a trance, caring for Mary and

occupying ourselves with mindless tasks. Disbelief, shock, and grief rose up around us as our

thoughts kept replaying the events of Friday over and over in our minds. I had slept fitfully,

waking early in the predawn darkness afraid and alone. What do we do now? There had always been Jesus and now He was dead. Hope was dead. Our lives as we knew them were over...

Sadness overtook me as I ran through the early dawn and the tears I had held at bay while

around the others began to course down my face. What began as a trickle became a torrent as I ran faster and faster, my breath coming in uneven hiccups, all of my sorrow pouring out of my aching heart. Reaching the garden, I made my way through the garden in the growing dawn, looking for the landmarks I had remembered Friday evening. As I came to where I thought it should be, frustration turned to alarm as I realized that the tomb in which we had placed Jesus was empty, the huge boulder put in place to seal it rolled out of place.

My heart constricted as I realized that His Body had been taken. Who would take Him? And

why? Anger and fear descended on me. I looked furtively around. Were they still here? My heart pounding, I turned and ran. I made my way back through the garden and towards the city. My mind raced as I came closer to the quarter where we lodged. What do I do now? I made my way to the disciples dwelling and arrived disheveled, breathlessly pounding on their door. Peter came to the door, his eyes re-rimmed and wary. He briefly opened the door, quickly pulling me inside. As I quickly told him of what I had seen, his brow furrowed and he called to the others and relayed to them what I had told him. He had no sooner finished before John brushed past me and burst through the door, taking off in the direction of the garden.

We did our best to follow him, our steps pounding on the city streets. Reaching the garden, we hurried to the tomb, where we found John, his body halfway in the tomb. “He’s gone. They’ve taken Him.” His gaze met Peter’s, the fear in their eyes unmistakable. We had seen His body laid in the tomb, We had seen the stone rolled into place. I had even placed the small bag of spices I had found in the street Friday evening, trampled and abandoned, next to his battered body. It wasn’t anywhere near enough to help, but it symbolized my feelings for Him. One final, heart-wrenching act of love. As the three of us peered in the cave, our thoughts were shrouded in confusion. If someone had taken Him, though, why were the grave clothes neatly folded? Why hadn’t they just taken Him, grave clothes and all? Surely, they had done it in a hurry?

John and Peter turned to go, dejected. Not only was Jesus dead, but they had even taken His

body. As they turned to go, John asked, “Are you coming with us?” I hesitated. Even though His body had been taken, I still felt an inexplicable closeness to Him here. I even heard the birdsong and was able to make out the beauty of the garden in the gathering light. “I think I’ll stay just a little longer. I need time to think.” Nodding, they turned to go. Left by myself, my thoughts drifted to Jesus. His smile, His kind eyes. He was so much more than a friend. He was... Again, tears threatened and in my exhaustion, I gave into them. In this beautiful place, on this beautiful day, I found myself sobbing as a small child who had lost her mother. The overflowing grief brought on by the last two days suddenly overwhelmed me and all at once I needed to raise my face to the heavens and scream, releasing all of the rage, fear, and agony that has besieged my heart since John had awoken me Friday morning.

Suddenly, my eyes were drawn to a slight movement across the path. A light emerged from the tomb that I had previously not noticed. A shiver fluttered down my spine. Perplexed and

somewhat fearful, I ventured over, peering slowly into the cave. I drew in my breath as my mind struggled to comprehend what my eyes were telling my mind they were seeing. There, right where, not ten minutes before we had seen the neatly folded grave clothes, sat two angelic beings. The angels looked somewhat amused and, their voices tinkling yet powerful, strong, yet comforting, said, “Woman, why are you crying?” I’m sure my mouth gaped open as words struggled to form themselves. Finally, I was able to murmur, “They’ve taken my Lord away and I don’t know where they’ve put Him.”

Suddenly their heads bowed and a faint rustling behind me caused me to turn. The gardener was there. He had startled me only slightly, but a chill began its way from my insides out to my limbs and I felt myself begin to tremble. His eyes were kind as he quietly asked me, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” Tears dribbled down my face as my gaze met his, “Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have put Him and I will get Him”. My heart pounded within me. His eyes, full of compassion and something else I couldn’t quite place, met mine and a small smile gently spread itself across his face. I can see it in my mind's eye today as clearly as when it happened so long ago.

He blinked slowly and spoke, the word traveling through the air between us as if carried on a

zephyr. “Mary.”

I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

Matthew 27:20

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