Stations of the Resurrection
III – Mary & Jesus in the Garden
A Psalm Paraphrase
28We know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
31What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
P: This is the word of the Lord.
C: Thanks be to God.
10Then the disciples went back to their homes.
11But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. 12And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. 13They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” 14Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” 16Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). 17Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for 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.’” 18Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her.
P: This is the word of the Lord.
C: Thanks be to God.
Artwork and Discussion
Mary Magdalene is named in all four gospels as the first witness of the empty tomb and the first preacher of the resurrection. In John’s gospel, the personal interactions of Jesus with select followers is intensified. Jesus, the “word made flesh,” explains the realities of heaven in dialogue (Greek: dia logos, “through the word”) with sight-challenged people. He begins with Andrews, Peter, Philip and Nathanael, meets Nicodemus at night, a Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well, an invalid at the Pool of Bethesda, teaches his disciples about the bread of life, heals a man born blind, visits the tomb of Lazarus, and even dialogues with Pilate about kingship and truth. After his resurrection, the dialogue continues with Mary, Thomas the doubter, and Peter, in need of restitution.
Mary, blinded by her grief and wondering where they have taken the body of Jesus, is brought to attention when Jesus calls her name. She is the only woman named in all four gospel narratives. According to Luke, Jesus had driven seven demons from her and she became one of a number of women who followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to him. She was a witness at Jesus’ crucifixion and burial, and John wants us to see the connection between cross and glory through the story of her personal devotion. Mary simply wanted the corpse of Jesus returned; he once was “Lord” but now was dead and distant. She suffered loss.
When Mary looks into the tomb a second time (20:11) she sees “two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.” Rather than deliver instructions as in the synoptic gospels, they ask, “Woman, why are you weeping?” The scene depicted by John said it all: Mary, you are in the presence of the new ark of the covenant in the Holy of Holies (see Exodus 25:17-22 — the two angels are parallel to the two cherubim on the ‘atonement’ cover;’ between them over the ‘ark of the Testimony’ is the place where God promises, “I will meet with you and give you all my commands…”). So, why weep?
Now the crucified and risen Jesus is the place where God meets with his people, where heaven and earth connect in creative communion. Mary’s mistaking Jesus for the gardener is perhaps John’s way of connecting this scene with the Garden of Eden and suggesting the new creation. Mary’s mistake in clutching Jesus’ feet, holding onto the old physical and communal contact with the Lord, must give way to the ascending Jesus who will be one with the Father so that there can be oneness with all disciples of every age. Jesus, after all, is lifted up so that he can draw all people to himself (John 12:32).
Meditation / A Responsive Reading