What does it mean to be a messenger of the experience of the Risen Lord? The liturgy tells us of two persons who were commissioned to do that: Peter and Mary Magdalene.
For Peter it was moments of boldness, addressing crowds of people he did not know, but speaking out of his own history with Jesus. That relationship was always, it would seem, getting him into difficulty. Although chosen to lead his brethren, the one called “the rock” very often faltered, and even denied Jesus during his severest crisis. But now the powerful gift of the Holy Spirit, the Grace of the Resurrection, allowed him to put his failings behind him so he could encourage others (thousands, Luke says) to “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
In the Gospel, John pictures for us the scene that Mary Magdalene discovered when she found the tomb empty and looked around in distress for Jesus’ body to annoint. John records the remarkable moment when Jesus resolved her confusion with a single word: her name "Mary." The tenderness of that moment gave way to her unique new task: “ Go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”
The responsibility to be the herald of the Risen Lord comes alike into the lives of both faltering, yet loyal, disciples and mystics. The Psalm goes further, indicating that even the earth is God’s herald: “ The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord. …let us rejoice and be glad”. Pope Francis in his encyclical Evangelii Gaudium reminds us that, as with Peter and Mary Magdalene, our Easter witness is a communication of joy.
Stephen Dunn cp