On the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put him.” So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb. They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter and arrived at the tomb first; he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in.
When Simon Peter arrived after him, he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there, and the cloth that had covered his head, not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place. Then the other disciple also went in, the one who had arrived at the tomb first, and he saw and believed. For they did not yet understand the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead.
John 20: 1-9
St. John of the Cross
St. John of the Cross describes the spiritual condition of Mary of Magdala that motivates her to go in search of Christ.
“The soul in this condition of love, then, is like a sick person who is extremely tired and, having lost the taste and appetite for all food, finds it nauseating and everything a disturbance and annoyance. In all that sick people think or see they have only one desire, the desire for health, and everything that does not lead to this is a bother and burden to them.
“Since the soul has reached this sickness of love of God, she has three traits: In all things that are offered to her or with which she deals, she has ever before her that longing for her health, which is her Beloved, and even though she cannot help being occupied with things, she always has her heart fixed on him. The second trait, arising from this first, is the loss of taste for all things. The third, then, which follows from these, is that all these things bother her and all dealings with others are burdensome and annoying.
“The reason for these traits, deduced from what has been said, is that, since the palate of the soul’s will has tasted this food of love of God, her will is inclined immediately to seek and enjoy her Beloved in everything that happens and in all her occupations, without looking for any satisfaction or concern of her own. Mary Magdalene acted similarly when with ardent love she was searching for him in the garden. Thinking that he was the gardener, without any further reasoning or consideration she pleaded with him: If you have taken him from me, tell me, and I will take him away [Jn 20:15]. Having a similar yearning to find him in all things, and not immediately finding him as she desires but rather quite the contrary not only does the soul fail to find satisfaction in these things, but they also become a torment to her, and sometimes a very great one. Such souls suffer much in dealing with people and with business matters, for these contacts hinder rather than help them to their goal” (C 10.1–2).
In today’s Gospel, Mary Magdalene goes to the tomb, finding it empty and reporting the absence of Jesus’ body to Peter who in turn runs to the tomb together with the beloved disciple. In Mary Magdalene’s love for Jesus, John of the Cross sees a true disciple’s love for Jesus. She is the one who was so touched by his love that she put all things aside to follow him and find him.
Once God touches us through his Son, we can never stop seeking him. This is because God’s touch is akin to God himself since he is the one who touches us. It is also because the mystery of Christ is never fully exhausted in one liturgical experience, one liturgical season, or one period of prayer, He is always ever-ancient and ever-new, in the words of St. Augustine.
I hope that during the Season of Lent, you were touched by the Spirit of Christ. Maybe it was not as great as the way John of the Cross describes Mary Magdalene’s experience, but enough so that you will continue to seek him in the events of your life, in your relationships, and in your heart.
While we do this searching in a spirit of Easter rejoicing, we also do it in a spirit of longing because until we see him return in glory we will never be fully ourselves. St. Teresa once wrote that God never tires giving himself to us. Thus, let us not tire of receiving him. We do this by searching for him, finding him, giving him back to himself with the same love he has given in himself to us. This circuit of love began with Baptism. May this Season of Easter, built on the asceticism of the Season of Lent, continue this circuit of love of seeking Christ, finding him, and returning him to himself with ourselves.
Lord God, you blessed Mary Magdalene with the grace to seek your Son with a great love after his death. Grant, we ask, that we too may have an equal love for your Son and that we seek him when times are dark and we only have the light of faith to guide us. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
We invite you to add your reflections and prayers in the comments section below.
Adapted from A Lenten Journey with Jesus Christ and St. John of the Cross by Fr. George Mangiaracina O.C.D.