"...go to my brothers and tell them,
'I am going to my Father and your Father,
to my God and your God.'"
Mary went and announced to the disciples,
"I have seen the Lord,"
and then reported what he had told her."
I am always moved by this story of Jesus and Mary Magdalene. Her anguish on Good Friday was beyond endurance; her joy on Easter is beyond human capacity. This devout woman received a twin blessing of consolation and assurance. She was consoled by his resurrection; she was assured of the Victory he had won over death. These blessing were woven together like the threads of a tapestry, inseparably blended like the flour and water of baked bread. But she remained in this world as her "Teacher" ascended, and she had new responsibilities to fit the new reality.
Saint Paul might have been speaking of her dilemma in his letter to the Philippians:
If I go on living in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. And I do not know which I shall choose. I am caught between the two. I long to depart this life and be with Christ, [for] that is far better. Yet that I remain [in] the flesh is more necessary for your benefit. And this I know with confidence, that I shall remain and continue in the service of all of you for your progress and joy in the faith...
We can well imagine Mary Magdalene "walking on air" as she made her announcement. She was living her heaven on earth.
As we read the Acts of the Apostles each weekday from now till Pentecost we will hear stories of men and women who are citizens of one world yet living in another. Animated by the Holy Spirit, they find ways to get over, around, under and through every obstacle. Civil and religious authorities oppose their every step; they meet with conflict from apparent disciples; even the weather opposes their progress and yet they keep going. Citizens of heaven, witnesses of Jesus' death and resurrection, they simply cannot be flustered by hardship.
If you and I cannot quite bring that elation to our daily responsibilities we can at least reflect on these stories. The same Holy Spirit that sent these men and women to "the ends of the earth" finds us at the ends of the earth and encourages us.