In one of the Dominican friar’s cells in San Marcos Convent in Florence, Fra Angelico painted a haunting fresco based on John 20: 11-18.
After having told Peter and John that the tomb was empty, Mary of Magdala returned to the tomb. Two angels there asked her why she is weeping. “Because they have taken away my Lord…”
Dismayed, she turns asks a man she encounters, “Where have you put him?”
It is Jesus but she doesn’t recognize him until he calls her by name. She thinks he is the gardener.
Could Jesus really be a gardener?
Could he be the one risen one who seeks to restore the garden of our souls, as he gives new life and hope to Mary of Magdala?
Could he be the risen one who seeks to restore the garden of our world, torn by death and violence, so that we might live more like our first parents in the Garden of Eden?
Let us open our hearts to the gardener who prunes, fertilizes, and waters us by his death and resurrection.
Let us commit ourselves to live as gardeners of this world, seeking to bring integrity, peace, and compassion to our broken world.
Perhaps that’s how we can celebrate the risen Lord, the gardener.
There is a longer essay by Father Peter Schineller, S.J., on his website, here. He notes that a Albrecht Dürer engraving of the encounter of Jesus with Mary of Magdala also presents Jesus as a gardener.