Revealing the Fullness of God’s Love: Mary Magdalene from The Mary Passions, part three

 A reflection on the Gospel for the Great Vigil, reimagined through the eyes of Mary Magdalene.
Whether from gray skies

 and starless nights

or the weight of grief

pressed against my heart –

I do not know.

But I had not slept—

Could not sleep

For –

my mind raced,

struggling to grasp

our crushing loss. 

Was he truly gone,

 Jesus, my friend?

No one should endure

the agony of


tortured and

stolen from them. 

The darkness of night

Swallowed us,  

and there

we women remained –

until the song of the birds

alerted us

to this dawning day.

We gathered our

oil and spices

and ventured into

the early morning light

to go to the tomb.

We did not speak.

The ritual of this

loving obligation to the dead

was well known to us,

 the only conversation

between us


in the sorrowful echoes

of our footsteps.

The tomb

looked as it did

when his body

was laid to rest

 two days before.

The entrance to the tomb,

 small –

but easily accessible –

was marked

by the scars

of its recent hewing,

 jagged and raw.

 I felt oddly comforted

by its gaping darkness,

as it reflected

the state

of my own soul—



and bleak.

 Perhaps it was for

this reason

that I gathered

the folds of my dress

around me


without hesitation

ducked through the opening

 to confront the reality

of my lifeless beloved.

The others


and as our eyes

adjusted to the darkness

 our hearts

were puzzled. 

“He is not here,” –

my  startled voice

broke the silence.

We looked at one another,

 fear creeping into our blood.

 I set the ointment down

 beside the lonely shroud

that had wrapped his body

and made my way around

the perimeter of the tomb.

It was as empty as I felt.


 the tomb was filled with light,

as though the sun

had breached the horizon

and directed its rays

to illuminate

our devastated world. 

So vivid was the light

that at first

we did not see

the two angels

who stood before us

in radiating brilliance.

One of them spoke gently –

“Do not be afraid,”

“Why do you look

for the living

among the dead?

He is not here,

but has risen.

My thoughts reached deep

into the mystery

remembering that

 this man

whom we loved –

Jesus –

taught us about

God’s love –

He and his love

changed our hearts

changed  our lives. 

The experience of

God’s love

Poured out

 in Jesus,

began to take hold

and banish the fear

that had settled

 in my heart.

 I had no answers,


neither was I afraid.

I heard my voice again

“He is not here!”

Could it be?

Was it possible

that the promise

of his triumph

was more than

a metaphor,

 that it was,

 in fact,

the miracle


were blessed to witness


in this tomb?

“He has risen?”


one of my companions,

and another

shouted with excitement,

“He is risen!”

In one heartbeat we turned

And found the angels gone.

 The light, however,


 to fill the emptiness,

permeating our hearts

with a love – full

and rich,



Our grief

gave way to a  

shattering awareness –

we began to

 leap with a joy

that we had never known.

Before we knew it

we were

rushing from the tomb

 toward the village,

and before long

we came upon the place

 where the disciples

 had gathered.


hearing our ruckus,

 got up

and began to move toward us.

When he saw who he were

he stopped,

 puzzled by our exuberance.  

One by one

the others got up

and moved toward us,

 and by the time

we reached them

they were drawn together

 in a cluster of

confusion and concern.

Peter grasped my arms in his hands.

 “What is it?” he demanded,


 I think,

that our mourning

had given way

to delirium.

We began to talk all at once,

sharing the gleeful news –

Jesus was risen!

The significance of our words

began to sink in,

 but the men were

backing up


turning away,

dismissing our claims as

 fantasy and

wishful thinking.

 Only Peter continued to listen,

but doubt

clouded his eyes, too. 

At last

we fell into silence,

and Peter

looked at each of us,

furrows of


and the weight of sin –

of his own betrayal of

Jesus, of God’s love –

 etched across his forehead

his mouth drawn down.

“Go home,”

 he said at last.

 “You are tired.

We are all tired.

We will talk soon.”

In stunned silence

we turned away

and began our walk home.

I turned once to look back,

and saw Peter

walk away –

 in the direction

 from which


had come. 

He was going to the tomb.

He picked up his pace,


before he

disappeared from view

 I thought I saw him

 begin to run.

That evening

Peter came to see us,

 bringing with him

the oil and spices

we had abandoned at the tomb.

 I knew

when I saw him enter the doorway

that he had seen

 and believed.

His face was no longer ravaged

 by the bitterness

of the last few days,

 but was illuminated

by the light of

joy and renewal.

I took the jars from him

and wrapped

 my arms

around him,

 and in that moment

we felt buoyed

by the love

that been

bequeathed to us


 would now sustain us.

We talked

 long into the night

until the full impact

of all we had witnessed

and come to understand

 was within our reach.

We then yielded

 to the fatigue

we had pushed away,

and Peter took his leave

 as I sought out my bed.

Outside the door,


hidden from my view

the previous two nights

seemed to sparkle

with a new brightness,

 and though my heart

still ached with loss,


coursed through my veins

like a soothing tonic.

 The world

might appear the same,

 but everything

was made new!

For the fullness

Of God’s love




Is Risen!

The Mary Passions are a three part series written by Kate Hennessy-Keimig, Anne Wolf-Fraley, and Terri C. Pilarski reimaging the last days of Jesus through the eyes of Mary, the Mother; Mary of Bethany; and Mary Magdalene and offered this year for Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, and The Great Vigil of Easter. 

About Terri C Pilarski

I am an Episcopal priest serving a delightfully progressive, interesting, creative congregation. I have been married more than half my life to the same man. We have two grown children, plus two dogs and two cats, although the number of four legged household members changes from time to time. I love to garden, knit, read, and play on Facebook or with my blog. I have been a practitioner of daily meditation since I was nineteen. I practice yoga five days a week and walk every where I am able too.
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