Time and again the resurrection narrative of Christ shatters the complacency of our discipleship. Each time we read the same we are coerced to ask ourselves whether we follow Christ to satiate our belly with bread (John 6:26) i.e. is the motive purely material? Is our discipleship conditional?
It was never so for those women at the empty tomb. They set forth to the tomb expecting a corpse. Their love for Christ continued undeterred even when He was dead; even when He had nothing to offer. The faith and love of these women are truly infectious and inspiring. Thus they came to be known as “eisapostolai” – Equal to the Apostles.
Today we commemorate the blessed and eternal memory of such an Apostle of resolute faith or in fact “the Apostle to the Apostles”, Mary Magdalene. “Mary” in Hebrew means “rebellious” and quite intriguingly those who have borne this name in the Scripture have done justice to this. For instance;
Mary – the Theotokos – equally shocked heaven and earth with her fiat “Let it be” without even once thinking about the socio-cultural contingencies that her conception would give rise to.
Mary of Bethany challenged the traditional patriarchal expectations of women by refusing to fulfill the kitchen chores. Instead she chose to sit at the feet of Christ.
Finally Mary Magdalene set out at dark to the tomb of Christ – while the men hid in fear – and not only witnessed the empty tomb and the risen Lord but also proclaimed the Gospel, “Christ is Risen!”
Furthermore, interestingly in the Gospel of John, “Mary” is a title that appears only post-resurrection of Christ. Prior to that even the Theotokos is not identified as Mary but simply as “woman” or the “mother of Jesus.” This communicates the very expectation of Christ from his disciples i.e. to be rebellious; to fearlessly confront and upend the systemic evils that impede the reign of God on earth. Discipleship is not granted but earned.
Dayroyo Fr. Basil
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