Lavinia Fontana, Christ Appearing to Mary Magdalene, Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence, 1581
Readings for Mass
First Reading: Acts 2:36-41
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 33:4-5, 18-19, 20, 22
Gospel: John 20:11-18
Jesus said to Mary Magdalene, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God (NRSV, Jn 20:17).’”
Let us pray.
Father, even as in Matthew’s gospel, for John, the first appearance of Jesus risen from the dead is to a woman. Here it is not the three Maries but Mary Magdalene alone. She is, for John, the first apostle, the first one, not only to have seen the risen Lord, but the first to be sent to bring the good news to the others. Mary is the proto-apostle.
Jesus speaks to Mary of his ascension which we so often, Father, fail to understand. To begin, all of the paschal mystery (Jesus’ death, resurrection, ascension and the sending of the Spirit) is one moment that is anchored in space and time but also transcends it. The ascension of Jesus, to isolate an aspect of this one mystery, speaks, not of Jesus’ final departure from us, but of his definite presence among us.
In the ascension of Jesus, the Word, your eternal Son, always present to us in the depth of our being, calling us to growth in divine life, defining our very existence as human beings, is recognized as being hypostatically united to one of us in our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus not only lived on this earth and walked among us. The Word made flesh, Jesus, enthroned with you in heaven, Father, lives as well in the depth of our being, never abandoning us, even when we sin, but always challenging us to repentance and the acceptance of new life.
This, Father, is the message given to Mary to bring to the others. Many we always be faithful to it.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.