Living out Easter: Having a Mary Heart in a World of Fear

The name Mary gets knocked so often because it's so common, but the name brings me joy on many levels. It's not just because I have several dear friends named Mary. It's also because two of my favorite people of all time are named Mary: Mary Magdalene and Mary, Mother of Jesus.

These two come to the forefront especially at Easter, and as we leave Easter Sunday and enter the Easter Season (Oh, yeah. Easter's not just a day, y'all! We celebrate Easter until Jesus returns to Heaven and sends His Spirit! So, we get to celebrate for another 50 days!). How do we carry this Easter Joy, this Easter Fire into a world of war, famine, disease, division, and fear? By following the examples of these two beautiful Marys.


I've written about Mary Magdalene before, She's, second to the Blessed Mother, one of the most misunderstood saints of all time, I think. And at Easter Time, her heart shines through. Magdalene was one of the only people to stand beside the cross, unashamed. The men who followed Him, swore never to leave Him, were taught and mentored by Him scattered. They ran and hid in fear, betrayed Him, or denied Him. But not Magdalene.

She stood at the foot of the cross, she kissed his feet, she wept her tears while standing vigil beside Him. She wasn't invited to the garden to pray with Jesus, but she remained with Him much longer than just one hour. It was she who helped prepare his body for burial. And it was she who went to visit the tomb as soon as the Sabbath was over. She didn't wait for the sun to come up. She didn't wait for the men to get up and come with them. She and a bunch of women went to finish what they started: to give their Lord the burial He deserved.

Her lips were the first human lips to sing the news that He was no longer in the tomb. She didn't understand what had happened. Her love for Him was too strong for her to process that He had risen. She only knew that she needed to be near Him. And so, she begged to be told where her Lord was.

Her Lord.

Let that sink in for a minute. This man that she had followed around, that she had just seen die a horrible death, that she had wrapped in burial cloths.... this man, she called Lord. It's so easy for us to forget that Jesus was a man. A flesh and blood man who probably smelled bad sometimes, who sometimes needed to sneak away to have some time alone, who got frustrated with how dense his friends were. But she knew the man, and in the man, she saw God. She saw the Divinity of Christ in the moments He was most human. And even though she couldn't understand. Even though she couldn't process what had happened, she still knew one truth: She had to be by Him. She needed to be near him, physically.

That love, that devotion is why she is called the First Apostle. She was granted the grace of seeing Jesus before his apostles, before the remaining eleven. She was given the privilege of telling them the miracle that had occurred. Because of the faith that allowed her to see Him as God and Man.

~~~

Now pan over to Jesus' Mother, Mary. The scriptures are loudly silent on Mary from the time of the Crucifixion until Pentecost. She doesn't join the women in going to finish preparing His body for the grave. She isn't with the Apostles (or at least not mentioned) when He comes and presents His Glorified Body to them. Where was she?

Saturday is called Mary's day because it's the day of quiet Hope. While the Apostles quaked in fear, I don't think that's what Mary was doing. I think she was grieving the death of her Son, but I think she was waiting for the rest of the story. She knew from the beginning that she would be Mother to the Messiah. She knew the promise that He would be King Forever. She was given clues along the way as to how this would play out, and when she didn't understand something, she kept it close in her heart and pondered it.

I think this is what she did then. She let herself grieve, but she didn't despair. Instead, she hoped. This is the day the world waited with bated breath. What would that third day bring? Mary didn't need to go to the tomb that morning. She knew what Her Son had promised - that He would rise again. She might not understand, but she did trust. She'd known since He was an infant that His road would be hard - and that it would require her heart to be pierced as well - just as she knew that it was this road that would bring salvation. She knew when she asked Him for His first miracle that His road would lead where she couldn't comprehend, could hardly follow. And she knew that the pain, the fear, the darkness couldn't last.

So, she clung to hope - that most elusive of virtues. When the world trembled, she found peace in Hope. And that hope was not unfounded! I love to imagine that meeting of hearts when Jesus came to Her. That He scooped her up and held her close, kissing her tears of joy away, that she smiled and kissed His wounds, seeing the hope she held to written in His skin. Seeing the pain she suffered with Him made glorious. This was the Hope that crushed the Serpent.

~~~

We live in a world darkened by fear, hatred, pain, sorrow, rage, unease, anxiety, and torment. We live in a world where Satan prowls seeking to drag us away from the Light of Easter. He sets his minions upon us, trying to distract us, make us anxious about little or big things, telling us that we are unworthy of the Sacrifice, that guilt, not love, should be our response, that darkness will win. We live in a world where we are bombarded with distractions, plagued with doubts, suffocated by fear.

And in this world, these two hearts, these two witnesses, shine as beacons of Easter.

We combat this darkness with the Lights of Faith and Hope. We cling to the knowledge that Our Lord is our safety, our joy, our everything. When we are close to Him, there we are home. There we are safe. Even when we cannot understand, we can hold to this faith. And with this faith, we will be able to move forward, to be the bearer of further light. And with the hope that even in the darkest of nights, the power of Christ will win out, we can splinter the blanket of darkness, and shatter the wall of fear.

So let us ask for the prayers of these two beautiful beacons of light. Let us ask Christ for the graces to emulate their hearts, to be filled with the fire of faith and peace of hope. Let us find in these women the message of Easter when Satan tries to darken the world around us.

"Then the God of Peace will quickly crush Satan under your feet." Romans 16:20

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