Imagine that you see Mary, the Mother of our Lord, Mary Magdalen, the penitent, and the other devout women repairing at an early hour in the morning to the sepulchre wherein Jesus was laid. They are the same women who only a few days previously traversed this same way, following the Condemned on His way to Calvary, amid the clamor and outcries of the raging, furious mob; and now they who to the very last faithfully and lovingly kept their station beside the Crucified One are privileged to be the first who shall witness the glory of His resurrection.
1st. Consider that our Lord appears to His blessed Mother. With what fervent longing we can imagine that the holy Virgin, strong in faith, anticipated the dawn of the third day when the prediction of her divine Son was to be accomplished. Perhaps she hastens at a very early hour in the morning, before the roseate hues of dawn light up the eastern sky, on her way to the sepulchre, to behold Jesus, the Sun of justice, who is to rise from the grave and dispel the shades of darkness before the light of the natural sun illumines the heavens at its rising. Her faith, her confidence was not deceived; an angel came down to the sepulchre, the earth quaked, and the Redeemer, risen from the dead, stood before her resplendent in surpassing beauty and majesty. What words can describe her joy, her delight, her happiness when she beheld Him whom but a short time before she held in her arms, who lay upon her knees a mournful, mangled corpse, now clothed in the robe of celestial glory! Mark this well, my soul, that, as the Fathers of the Church and preeminently St. Ambrose assure us, she to whom it was granted first of all others to enjoy the delight and rapture of that Easter morn, was the one who had felt most acutely the sorrows of the way of the cross, and had also displayed the greatest faith and courage on that sad pilgrimage. The more you suffer here below, my soul, and the more steadily the light of your unwavering faith and confidence burns during the night of affliction, the more reason you have to hope that you will sing with Mary a joyous alleluia in the courts of the heavenly Jerusalem.
2d. Consider how our Lord appeared to Mary Magdalen. She was walking to and fro in the garden, weeping bitterly, overwhelmed with profound grief, seeking her beloved Lord “because they had taken Him away.” And now, when she finds Him whom she loves with the most ardent affection of her soul, and finds Him, not dead as she expected, but alive; when He in gentle, loving accents calls her by her name, O who can depict the rapture, the ecstasy of that meeting! Ponder this attentively, my soul; first of all Mary, who represents suffering innocence, was privileged to taste the joys of our Lord’s resurrection; then after her Mary, suffering penitence, who had followed Christ crucified with contrite love, these two were permitted before the other women to rejoice in the presence of their risen Saviour. Remember this whenever the yoke of the life of penance whereon you have entered becomes distasteful to you.
3d. Consider how, according to St. Matthew (ch. xxviii. v. 9) our Lord also appeared to the other women on the way. These women did not possess Mary’s firm, unalloyed faith; they did not come, as she did, to see their risen Lord; they came for the purpose of embalming His lifeless body, to pay a last tribute of affection even in the sepulchre to the dead Christ, whom they had compassionated on the way to Calvary. And the love they thus displayed was so pleasing to God, that He vouchsafed to permit them to share before others the joy of our Lord’s resurrection. Thus God is wont to reward every service of love. Wherefore rise up, my soul! Be tender and compassionate towards your suffering Lord in the person of your Brethren and Sisters; weep with those who weep; go with the mourners to the sepulchre, that you may there like the devout women show charity to the dead. Act thus, and it will do much towards obtaining for you the privilege of a blissful resurrection, and the beatific vision of the risen Saviour.
– Meditations on the Life, Teaching, and Passion of Jesus Christ
(Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur: New York, December 31, 1900)
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