My friends, Happy Easter! He Is Risen! Alleluia! Alleluia! First, I want to wish you and yours a very Blessed Easter. I know that this year is sadly different from years past, but I hope it allows some time of silence and reflection to allow the good news to really take hold of your heart. Secondly, I want to share a bit of the good news with you! In the 20th chapter of John's Gospel we hear his account of the Resurrection. It is without a doubt the most personal account we have and it is the one normally read on Easter morning at Mass. John who humbly calls himself the "beloved disciple" is also the one that in this most important recounting of the most important event of all time throws in lines like "They both ran, but the other disciple (John) ran faster than Peter..." John in fact takes in most of the scene before that slow-poke Peter ever gets to the tomb. However, there is an even more curious line that is not included in our normal Gospel passage at Mass, but it has bothered scholars, theologians, and preachers for centuries. I am referring to the moment after the Apostles leave and the beautiful Mary Magdalene stays behind weeping. She sees angels in the tomb and she mourns the loss of her Lord. It is then that she turns around and is the first to see the Resurrected Christ! There's just one problem. She mistakes Him for the gardener!
Oh my. In the history of embarrassing moments that has to be one of the worst! Mary Magdalene was one of the closest disciples to Jesus! She loved him with a desperate love of gratitude after He had saved her from 7 demons! (Lk 8) Now, on the most important morning of any day in history she takes center stage and basically forgets her line! How could someone so close to Jesus, one of the disciples who knew Him best, not know Him now? I've heard so many reasons and excuses for this social snafu. Some claim that she did not really look even though the Gospel says she did. Others say that Jesus' resurrected body really meant there was no body at all and He was just spiritually present in other people... Please don't buy into that nonsense! Jesus rose from the dead, His resurrected body was different for sure, but still His body. I'll offer my own opinion of this story, Mary got it right! She may not have known she got it right, but by the grace of the Holy Spirit she does in fact deserve some praise. Let's look together at some of what should be proclaimed on that Easter morning. The Messianic Warrior is returned victorious! The Prophetic Word is giving life to dead bones! The Davidic King is reigning over life and death! The New Moses is delivering us from slavery! The New Isaac is living obedient through death! The New Melchizedek is a priest eternally! And yet, Mary does not say any of those things. She doesn't hold to any of the lines that she should have proclaimed. Instead on this first day of the week, after the world had been created anew, and the chaos of death and sin had been defeated, she looks up and sees the New Adam, the God-man, walking in the garden and she gets it right! Jesus had indeed come to fulfill all of those other prophecies! He is Priest! Prophet! King! Yet at the center of all of this He is fixing what was broken from the beginning when the first man and woman who were set in Eden to cultivate and care for it (Gn 1:28), gave up that job out of pride and sided with the serpent in sin! Jesus Christ fights with the serpent and defeats it! He chooses the Tree of Life (His cross) instead of the forbidden fruit. He cares for His bride the Church perfectly, unlike Adam who was a silent coward with Eve. And yes, on this first day of new creation when He reigns victorious over Heaven and Earth, when He appears to one of those who knew Him best, He is caring for what is His, as a very good gardener. Have a Blessed and Happy Easter!