Fr. Mark Gatto
Preached: April 4, 2021
This is one of my favourite Gospel stories. A very personal, very intimate encounter between The Risen Lord Jesus and Mary Magdalene. Mary Magdalene, this woman who is the first to encounter the Risen Lord Jesus. The Tradition calls her the Apostle to the Apostles. The first to profess the Resurrection. In Mary Magdalene begins a long history of great women preachers, usually always unofficially preaching. In our new parish name, St. Catherine of Siena, we have another of the great women preachers in Church history.
There is something surprising in this encounter between Jesus and Mary Magdalene. She does not recognize him at first. She thinks he is the gardener. Same thing happens in the other Resurrection accounts, often the disciples do not recognize Jesus at first. But, this was someone they had loved, someone they had spent much time with over the past years. It is surprising that she does not recognize him.
There was a Bishop from Brazil who tells a story of thinking about and reflecting on the Resurrection accounts such as the Road to Emmaus. And like this encounter with Mary Magdalene he could not understand why they failed to recognize this man they knew so well.
While he was thinking about this there was a knock on the door. It was poor man looking for assistance. The Bishop was a little disturbed that his meditation time was being interrupted. So, to get rid of the poor man as quickly as possible he gave him a little cash, a smile, and goodbye.
The moment the door was shut, he realized, he had behaved just like the disciples. The Lord Jesus had knocked on his door in that poor man and he could not get rid of the living Christ fast enough to return to his thoughts on the blindness of the disciples.
Are we like Mary Magdalene, like the disciples, failing to recognize the Living Jesus in those people who knock on the door of our lives? Do we fail to recognize the Living Jesus in the person in need right in front of us? Perhaps in your family, your own spouse, your child, your parent? Perhaps in your community, someone grieving, someone alone, someone sick, someone struggling?
Do we celebrate this Eucharist and fail to recognize the Living Jesus present to us in the bread and wine transformed into Holy Communion?
Imagine how we would be at Mass, how we would hunger to be here, if we truly recognized the Risen Lord Jesus here in the Eucharist to meet us?
Imagine how we would be with the people in our lives, if we truly recognized the Risen Lord Jesus coming to us in that person in front of us?
That wonderful personal, intimate encounter between Mary Magdalen and Jesus is an encounter that each of us can also share. But, we need to recognize Jesus in this simple bread transformed at Mass. We need to recognize Jesus present in that person in need right beside us. Then we will be apostles like Mary Magdalene, proclaiming joy and hope in the Risen Lord Jesus.