“Mary!”

A Homily for Easter – the Resurrection of our lord

Text: I Corinthians 15:1-11; St. John 20:1-18


Grace to you and peace from God our Heavenly Father and Christ Jesus our Risen Lord. Amen.

The world came crashing down on Friday. Expectation had been building for centuries – an anointed one from God, a messiah, would come to liberate the people.

Then entered a wandering preacher from Nazareth with the power to heal the sick, to cast out demons, even to raise the dead; he proclaimed repentance, the forgiveness of sins, and the coming Kingdom of God.

Just a week ago, there was a triumphal parade into Jerusalem, with waving palm branches and shouts of Hosanna! Hope abounded.

But it all withered like a cursed fig tree, and by Friday, Jesus was hung upon the cross, another victim of Rome’s brutally efficient crackdown against any would-be rebels.

“It is finished,” Jesus gasped from the cross.

And had the story ended there, with a lynching tree and a sealed tomb, then there is no good news.

If Christ is not raised, there is no hope.

If Christ is not raised, we are still dead in sin.

If Christ is not raised, let’s all just go back to bed.

If Christ is not raised – really, truly, literally, bodily – then it is all utterly meaningless.

But early on the first day of the week, before the sun was up, one of the disciples went to the tomb – Mary, she who had followed Jesus all the way to the cross while nearly all of the men ran and hid. She entered the garden and went to wear they had laid his body – but the stone was gone and the grave was empty. After telling the others, and after Peter and John ran to investigate, finding the burial cloths rolled up and set aside. But there was no corpse. What was happening? Peter had his doubts, and John had his hope.

They left, but still Mary remained, tears flowing from her eyes.

Two angelic figures asked her, “Woman, why are you weeping?”

What a question. Why are you weeping?

Because hope is gone.

Because there seems to be no answer.

Because Mary, like us, is caught in a world where sin, violence, and death seem to reign.

We weep alongside Mary because over the past year, nearly three million people have died from a viral pandemic.

We weep alongside Mary because we have seen too many lives claimed by gun violence.

We weep alongside Mary because we have heard persons of color crying out, “I can’t breathe.”

We weep alongside Mary because there don’t seem to be any answers.

We weep alongside Mary because we wonder, “What if the dead are not raised? What hope is there?”

But as she cried, she heard her name: “Mary.”

In that moment, in hearing that voice – that voice that had doubtless spoken her name hundreds of times before, so familiar – that voice she wondered if she would ever hear again, that voice that had called Lazarus out of his tomb and now called to her – Mary Magdalene knew the fullness of the Gospel.

Our Lord called to Mary by name just as he had called each of his disciples, and he sent her to proclaim the Good News: Christ Our Lord is risen! Sin has been vanquished! Death has been overturned! There is hope!

On that day, Christ ordained Mary Magdalene to preach the first Easter sermon, the first proclamation to capture the fullness of the Gospel: “I have seen the Lord!”

Mary has seen the Risen Lord, the very Jesus of Nazareth born of the Blessed Virgin. Not just metaphorically but literally. The very body that was born of the Blessed Virgin in Bethlehem and nursed at her breast! The very body that was circumcised on the eighth day! The very body which was baptized by John in the Jordan and fasted in the wilderness, that walked on water, that reached out to touch the sick, the very body which rode into Jerusalem on a colt, the body that knelt down to wash his disciples’ feet on Thursday night! The very body that was flogged and hung upon the cross and pierced by nail and spear and put into the tomb!

Mary has beheld the precious Body of our Lord Jesus Christ, once dead and now alive forever!

Because Mary has seen the Lord, we know that there is hope.

Because Mary has seen the Lord, we know that those who mourn will be comforted.

Because Mary has seen the Lord, we know that covid and cancer and dementia and all those bitter ailments will not win the day.

Because Mary has seen the Lord, we know that all our broken relationships will be healed.

Because Mary has seen the Lord, we know that those lives lost at the end of a gun or under a cop’s knee shall be returned.

Because Mary has seen the Lord, we know that the dead shall be raised.

Because Mary has seen the Lord, we know that death has been defeated.

Because Mary has seen the Lord, we know that the grave is not the end.

Because Mary has seen the Lord, we know that our sins are forgiven.

Because Mary has seen the Lord, we know that we too shall live.

Because Mary has seen the Lord and he has called her by name, we know that the Lord lives and calls each of us by name, sending us to proclaim the Good News.

Christ is risen! Alleluia!

Amen. Amen. Amen.

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