So imagine this scene:
It’s Sunday morning, it’s still dark.
It’s three days after Jesus was tortured, killed, buried in a new tomb that had a gigantic stone covering the entrance. A woman walking with aromatic herbs and oils, with swollen eyes from crying for days. Her head is hanging and her back is curved, her heart is broken and she feels it inside her chest. It hurts. She wants to see Him, even though He’s dead. Dead, He left. He was so young! She wants to take care of Him, cover Him with the best scents around, give Him some of her Love. Her Master, her Teacher, her Friend. Her Savior.
Seven demons. That’s what He delivered her from. She had been suffering, a slave, a prisoner inside her own body. Imagine the rejection she faced, how people looked at her, how she must have felt.
Minds judging her, eyes seeing her as filth.
He didn’t care. No, not at all, He saw her and saw the flowers that were about to bloom in her heart. Those eyes, HIS VOICE, HER NAME, that seemed to contain all of the stars of the night sky and the roar of a thousand seas, those eyes rested on hers. And the light they contained illuminated her own eyes. She didn’t feel rejected. Those eyes saw beyond all that filth. She felt some strange burning inside her heart. He had love in His eyes.
Seven demons at the sound of his voice. One breath and she was free.
That Man, who had just fed four thousand men, and other thousands of women and children, that Man looked at her with love, compassion.
She vowed to give Him all that He needed, she served Him with her belongings. She didn’t care what the other girls in the village would say of her. This Man had shown her more love than she had ever felt in her whole life. She followed Him through thick and thin, listened to every word He said. Oh, He was admirable! How much wisdom came out of His mouth!
Her eyes witnessed so many miracles as she walked with Him, as close to Him as she was allowed.
Standing from a distance, she watched as the drops of blood stained the path He walked. The nails ripping His flesh, the thorns cutting through His forehead, His own weight the instrument of His suffering. Her stomach could barely stand the scene, her heart breaking with every drop of blood falling to the ground. Even from far away, she saw His tears as His eyes searched the crowd. And her heart burned again as His eyes found her, and He still looked at her with that same love she felt the first day she met him – when she was filth.
Her knees gave in, her heart broke further as that loving gaze still tried to comfort her pain. HE looking past His own ripped flesh and humiliation, past the blood that almost blinded him, HE was comforting HER with only one look. She couldn’t stand the weight of such love, as much as she couldn’t understand what was happening.
She heard Him scream before He died. She still remembers that piercing sound, the skies turning black.
That was also how she felt inside.
Even now, walking slowly down the path His lifeless body took towards that empty tomb, her tears were creating patterns on the dirt. Her hands are wrapped around herself, holding on to those wonderful scents that only bring more sadness to her soul. More than that, she’s trying to hold on to the pieces of her heart, that she feels are falling from her body. She’s breaking apart, she needs Him, she needs to see her unconditional Friend. At least that empty body of His. She wants to heal His wounds even if He doesn’t feel them anymore. She won’t mind the stench of dried blood on the rotting body. Oils and perfumes are going to make Him smell nice again, a comforting fragrance like His life, His soul smelled so good.
The weight of her sorrow made her head heavy, so it takes a great effort to lift it. How am I going to move that huge stone? Anxiety starts building and she feels hot tears on her cheeks trying to find a solution.
Only a few meters ahead she will see her Friend again.
Her heart stops.
Her lungs stop.
Her mind is blank.
Her soul aches.
A heavy grey cloud is filling her mind, waterfalls are coming out of her eyes. Her body cannot hold the weight of her sorrow anymore.
The tomb is open.
She can’t believe it.
How can these people be so cruel?
Her knees give in once more. The beautiful fabric of her new tunic covered in dirt, her garments falling to the ground. She didn’t care that it was cold. She lost all will to live.
He didn’t deserve to die.
His life is gone.
His body is gone.
Someone took it! Why would someone take it? Where is His body?
She raises her voice.
Her soul can’t take it anymore.
WHERE DID YOU TAKE HIM!?
She feels her body break apart with every sob, screams coming out of her trebling chest. Her whole body in motion. It’s getting harder to breathe.
She needs to tell the others!
It takes all her strength to stand back up.
One step in front of another. There’s mud where she’s been crying. The sun still shows no sign of coming out. That’s how she feels inside.
Walk, she tells herself. Breathe.
I need to tell them.
The tears block her view. She keeps running. She grabs the door, breaks into the house. They’re all scared. They’ve all been hiding.
Eleven men looking at her. None of them moved. Two, maybe three turned around.
HE’S GONE! HIS BODY HAS BEEN STOLEN!
Her whole body is covered in tears. Her hair is a mess, that beautiful robe that covers her head is lying in the mud of her tears.
Red cheeks. Red eyes. Swollen nose, swollen eyes. Dark circles show all the sleepless nights of crying. She’s pale.
She’s trembling. Dirty.
Peter looks at her, head to toe. His judgment is like lemon on her wounds.
“Women,” he thinks. It stings.
John stands up, looking concerned. He’s so young.
ARE YOU NOT GOING TO BELIEVE ME? THE STONE HAS BEEN MOVED, THERE IS NO BODY INSIDE THAT TOMB!
Impotence. They don’t believe her.
She starts running back.
Running behind her is John. He reaches her, looks at her deep in the eyes. He believes her, but he doesn’t want to believe her.
It can’t be true.
He runs faster that her, his shape gets lost in the darkness of the morning.
More steps approach her, it’s Peter. He doesn’t even look at her.
He’s running with all his might.
He too disappears in the distance ahead.
As she arrives she sees John paralyzed outside, roughly where she had collapsed and wept. Peter is walking back and forth inside the tomb, he looks at the bandages. He recognizes the blood where his deepest wounds were. All that blood is not something you forget.
John found the courage to step inside, and he finally believed.
Speechless, they both stepped outside and walked back home.
Grief and desperation started to cloud her mind again. It was getting harder to breathe. Slowly she walks closer to the entrance, her body shaking in search for tears to cry. She was living a nightmare and she wasn’t even sure that all if this was really happening. Stooping down she looked to the sepulcher.
She hears two voices.
“Why are you weeping?”
The space inside is oddly illuminated. What is happening?
“They… They have taken away my Lord… Jesus… And I…”
Her voice breaking. No breath is enough. Her chest is closing.
“I don’t know where they have laid him.”
Two steps backwards.
She turns around, drenched in tears. Shaking.
The beauty of the garden surrounding her contrasts with her sorrow.
She falls to the ground, shaking, crying, sobbing. Gasping for air, screaming in pain.
“Why are you crying miss?”
It’s the gardener, isn’t it? It must have been him. He must know.
Through a broken voice she manages to whisper.
“Sir, if it was you, if you took His body away, I beg you… Please tell me where He is! I will take Him away…”
This pain feels like wild waters, and she’s drowning, her own tears the hurricane that throws her to the ground.
She wipes the waterfalls, and feels her swollen eyes. Feels her own heart numb, confused, hurt.
There’s a silence that seems to last eternity.
Her heart skips a beat.
Her lungs catch a deep breath for the first time in three days.
Time seems to have…
The light is blinding her, colorful flowers saturating her vision. The sun is finally in the sky.
That’s who she is. Rebellious. Loved.
She suddenly feels less heavy.
That’s her name.
And that’s the voice of love.
That’s the breath that pronounced it so perfectly, as if he had created the sounds that composed her name.
She turns around, her whole body curious to look at that sound.
Lifting her head is easier now.
Her eyes take a while to adjust the image in front of her.
She sees His eyes. Those eyes of love, no sign of suffering. The same stars, the whole creation inside that gaze.
She jumped up to her feet. She felt like she was flying, opening her arms. She attached herself to Him. Fastening herself to her Master, setting her heart on fire.
A millisecond that lasted an eternity.
“Don’t touch me, I still have to ascend to my Father. But go to my brothers and say to them that I ascend to my Father, and your Father; and my God, and your God.”
Her joy was inexplicable. That same path that she walked through in anguish and pain and heartbroken and weeping so many times that day, she was now walking it in peace and an unsurmountable joy. She did not stop, she did not wait at the door. She told her brothers what Jesus had told her.
He told her.
She told them.
He chose her. He trusted her with that precious message: “He is ALIVE: He is risen!”
Now picture this: out of all the people that LOVED Jesus, that followed him, out of all the people that He trusted… He chose Mary. Mary from Magdala, a small town in Galilee. That same Galilee out of which no prophet arose. A forgotten place.
A woman that had been despised and judged, possessed by seven demons. We don’t know how she got them or what her sins were. She was forgiven. Her sins were forgiven and forgotten so much so that we will never know.
Jesus chose a woman, going against what was normal at the time. But doing exactly what God wanted since the beginning of creation.
Woman and man the same, both being equal children of God.
It might have required a bigger step of faith for the male disciples, to believe a woman.
But notice this: she didn’t recognize him initially. I doubt she even recognized the angels sitting where Jesus’s feet and head had rested.
Jesus’s first action after his resurrection was to approach a heartbroken woman.
He asked her questions and expected an answer: he gave her a voice. He was concerned about her troubles. It must have hurt Him to see her suffering as much as she was.
After giving her a voice, He called her by her name. Only then does she recognize Him.
The action of naming requires an authority. It also requires identity.
He tells her who she is.
One simple word. One simple breath that contained her name in His spirit.
As spirit is breath, and breath makes a voice and a voice contains words.
And His spirit is life.
He brought her name to life.
He brought her to life.
He established her identity. Note that he did not change her name, like God has done over and over in the past.
Mary. English word for Maria, Greek word for Mirjam.
Mirjam in Hebrew means rebellious. It might be a derivative of Maryeµ, Egyptian for “loved one.”
So here’s a crazy thought:
The first person ever to see the empty sepulcher and the first person to see Jesus glorified was a woman (there is no record of her being married).
She was the first evangelizer in history, the first one to spread the good news of the gospel.
Could we say that the first thing Jesus did once He resurrected was to call a woman out of her heartbrokenness, call her by her name and establish her identity in Him?
He saw her in her pain.
He gave her a voice.
He let her speak about her pain.
He called her name.
He breathed life into her name. It was not a question. It was a statement. His words are spirit. His spirit is life.
He told her to tell His brothers that He is risen, that He had to ascend to His Father. To our Father!
That changed the whole cultural concept of the time, the whole thought of the cursed woman who sinned and was subject of man, inferior to him. Jesus trusted her, gave her the most important role. Gave her authority in his name.
All of this happened because she stayed. John and Peter left once they realized his body was gone. We don’t know what they did during that time, they just went back home.
But Mary stayed. She cried. She wanted to show her love to her Teacher, her Friend, by scenting his rotten body, taking care of Him even when He was already dead.
She cried for Him. She probably gave everything she had inside, she must have poured her heart out. She was in so much pain that she didn’t recognize Him, nor the angels.
She only recognized Him after He called her name.
I think God has a specific role for us women, especially single women that are not yet in the role of wives and mothers. I think no one ever asked Him what His design is for the single woman in Christ.
In ancient Hebrew culture, the daughters were property of their fathers. Virgins would wait inside their father’s house for the man they were to marry, usually chosen by their father. And because of this property issue, the groom had to pay a sum to marry the daughter.
This is the first thing that I could find on God’s plan for unmarried women. Although that might seem a bit disturbing in our time, what I want to bring out it the following:
Girls waited in their father’s house. Trusted him to choose the best for them. They were protected, taken care of.
If we believe that God is our Father, and we trust that He wants the best for us, that He created the universe and owns it… Shouldn’t we stay inside our Father’s house, in His kingdom, until He chooses who we’re supposed to marry?
And notice that I’m talking about being daughters, not servants. A servant doesn’t know what her master is doing, a daughter has an intimate relationship with her father, knows his plans. He trusts her. She helps him to continue his work, to leave a legacy.
We are His daughters, let us listen to His voice calling our names. Let us hear what is the name He calls upon us. Let us answer accordingly, and understand our place in Him. We do not decide what our identity is, we cannot even look at ourselves with our own eyes! He gives us our identity. He knows who we are, since the beginning of time. He created us
August 31, 2018
Antonella Scavone Domínguez