In today’s Gospel (John 20: 11-18), Mary Magdalen mistakes Jesus for a gardener.
But is it really a mistake?
Isn’t Jesus, the gardener of souls? But even more, isn’t the Garden the place where humans first encountered God?
In Genesis 3, we read that God walked with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. But they hid after abusing the garden, eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. At the serpent’s suggestion they ate the fruit because they wanted to be like gods.
But in the Garden of the Tomb, Mary Magdalene encounters the Lord Jesus who calls her by name.
The garden that was lost is now encountered. The relation between God and humans is now restored.
The hope is that the relation and between God and all creation is now also restored.
God has initiated this but, like Mary Magdalen, we are called, to pass on the message of the risen Lord, of the promise of resurrection for God’s people and of the renewed creation.
What a fitting message for Earth Day.
Let us work with the Gardener to restore some signs of the Garden of Eden on God’s good earth.
The image is from a fresco of the San Marco Friary in Florence painted by the Dominican Fra Angelico and his students.
An earlier meditation on this Gospel can be found here.
I will seek him
whom my soul loves.
Song of Songs 3:4
Today is the feast of Saint Mary Magdalene.
Her story has inspired many artists – from Donatello to Fra Angelico. But her life has often been confused with two other women in the Gospels, the woman who washed the feet of Jesus and Mary of Bethany. St. Jerome and St. Gregory the Great are most responsible for this conflation of three women into one and thus the image of Mary Magdalen as a public sinner, a former prostitute.
But the image that today’s readings give is of a woman who loved the Lord, sought Him, and was sent by the Lord.
John’s Gospel (20: 1018) presents her as the first witness to the resurrection.
She went to the garden tomb weeping – especially when she saw the empty tomb. But the Lord appeared to he and she thought he was the gardener. He gives her a message – go and tell my brothers.
based on Fra Angelico’s fresco
She is sent – an apostle to the apostles – to tell them that the Lord is risen.
She who had followed Jesus during his life, even standing at the foot of the Cross, is – in John’s Gospel – the first to see the risen Lord and the one entrusted to carry the Good news of the resurrection to the apostles.
How can we be like Mary?
Seek the Lord.
Accompany Him on the paths he walks..
Be with Him in His suffering and death.
Seek his Body.
Let oneself be surprised by the risen Lord.
Announce the Good News that He is risen – hope is born.