Apostle to the Apostles
Jesus said to her, “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.'” – John 20:17
Greetings, fellow disciples of Jesus,
Today is the feast day of St. Mary Magdalene. Mary is known in the Church as the apostle to the Apostles, because Jesus sent her to them to proclaim the good news that He is risen from the dead. (Apostle means “one who is sent.”)
Mary was the first person in all the world to see the risen Lord Jesus Christ. She was the first person entrusted with the gospel of the resurrection of Jesus. This is fitting because she was one of the few who stayed with Jesus and witnessed His crucifixion. (The only of the Apostles to do this was John.)
The song, “In the Garden,” tries to capture what Mary’s experience might have been. The joy she shared with Jesus as she walked with Him that first Easter morn had not been known by any other—and would not be until after He appeared to others later that evening.
Mary, in her role as apostle to the Apostles, shared this joy with them: “Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, ‘I have seen the Lord’; and she told them that he had said these things to her” (John 20:18).
Unfortunately, the disciples did not believe her testimony. As Luke tells it, the apostles heard her story and it “seemed to them an idle tale” (Luke 24:11). The doors of the house where they were meeting remained locked for fear, and their hearts, too, were locked in unbelief until Jesus Himself stood in their midst, proclaimed peace, and showed His hands and side. Then they rejoiced.
We have not seen Jesus with our own eyes; yet, we believe the testimony of Mary Magdalene and the apostles. Jesus says that we are blessed in this. Truly, we are blessed, for it is not of our own strength or understanding that we believe in Jesus or call Him Lord; rather, it is the work of the Holy Spirit calling, gathering, enlightening, who works this miracle of faith and joy in us.
Generation after generation, Jesus has sent out His saints to share the good news of His resurrection from the dead with a world in desperate need of hearing it. It started with Mary, and today it continues with you. To whom is Jesus sending you?
The Lord be with you.