Most Rev Peter A Comensoli
Archbishop of Melbourne
What a strange and unsettling storm we are living
through! Our lives have become a see-saw between physical isolation and online
overload. We come to this year’s Easter festivities having been tested in
unprecedented ways. What might we draw from that first Easter that can sustain and
renew us? Let me offer you the name of Mary of Magdala.
The first to see the resurrected Jesus at Easter dawn
was Mary. She was the first to see him; the first to recognise him; the first
to be named by him; and the first to be sent by him. Mary rightly is the first
apostle, the one called and sent to proclaim Jesus Christ, risen from the dead.
Yet, all of this happened quietly, and away from the public gaze that had
marked the suffering and death of the world’s Saviour. Jesus did not return to
his people in a blaze of publicity; but quietly, gently, personally – he called
Mary by name.
It is worth honouring Mary Magdalene at this strange
and disorienting Easter of 2020, when none of our customary ways of marking these
Greatest of Days can occur. For in the tender meeting of Jesus with Mary we
have a sure sign of how we might make our way through these days of suffering.
Jesus Christ did not rise from the dead so as to show
the world something marvellous and clever. His rising instead showed that
suffering and death would no longer have the last word. Rather, that first word
spoken to Mary and then repeated through the generations is a name, bearing
hope and life for each whose name is called. Easter is a word that re-created the
Christians have not been able to gather physically to
participate in the Easter Ceremonies this year. Friends and family have not
been free to socialise together. No shared leisure; no common activities; no
sport. There are no public ways to mark this religious festival. Yet, that first
word Jesus spoke at his resurrection – a name on the lips of God – he is now speaking
into this storm that has engulfed us. Overwhelmed, disoriented and fearful as
we might feel, a calm, clear and tender voice is calling our name.
It is not a voice to magically whisk us away to
comfort and security, nor a voice that pretends there is no storm to ride
through. It is, rather, the voice of the Risen One, who has known suffering and
death, and has tamed their power to overwhelm us. He stands with each of us, so
that we need not stand alone. He calls each of us, so that we have a sure compass
point. He walks with each of us to show the way through.
Death does not have the last word any longer, even
though it’s threat remains. Our lives – held in the heart of God and carried through
death to life by his Son – have not been forgotten. We are remembered by God; he
calls each of us by name.
as Jesus is calling us, he is also sending us to speak words of care, support
and comfort into the lives of those around us, and into our #HomeChurch. He is
the voice that speaks through those we are close to at this time – our children
we are caring for, our leaders protecting the people, our healthcare workers
serving in danger, our spouses and loved ones.
As we remember this Easter that the first word of the
risen Jesus was the name ‘Mary’, may we hear our own names echo in that call. Let
us hold onto this anchor in the storm we are currently living through. To borrow
a colloquial phrase, Christ has our back, and we will be OK with him.
Noli me tangere by Fra Angelico