Week 5: Mary Magdalene finds home in Jesus
Pastor Joseph G. Crippen
Texts: John 20:1, 1-18; Romans 8:31-39
Beloved in Christ, grace to you, and peace in the name of the Father, and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen
Mary Magdalene shows you where your home is.
St. Augustine prayed, “Our hearts are restless, till they find their rest in you.” That’s Mary’s life in Christ. She found her rest, her home with the Triune God, in Jesus.
But it was more than a restless heart for Mary. Luke tells us seven demons tore through Mary’s mind, broke her life, her relationships, filled her with pain. Until she met Jesus. He gave her life back, raised her from a life of death. He brought her home.
Literally, of course. As someone possessed, she likely didn’t live at home, but on the fringes of her society. Possessed or mentally ill people were often shunned, sent away from their families. Torn from all the ties that gave them life and joy. When Jesus restored Mary, he gave her both home and family back.
It isn’t hard to grasp the enormity of this gift. We all are affected by the pain and suffering of mental illness, whether our own or that of ones we love. Maybe Mary literally had evil spirits within her. Maybe she was dealing with a devastating and debilitating mental illness. In either case, can you imagine the joy of having your own thoughts and mind back? It would be resurrection.
But Mary doesn’t go back to her former home. “Home” is now wherever Jesus is.
That’s why she’s still there at the end. At the cross, watching that horror, when so many of his friends and followers ran. Waiting and watching as Nicodemus and Joseph carefully took his body away and put it in a tomb. Being the only one whom all four Gospels agree was at the tomb Sunday morning. The person who meant the most to her, who was her home, her life, was dead. And though she couldn’t do anything about it, she wanted to be where he was. Cling to him. Cling to home.
And isn’t this what the others we’ve met in John’s Gospel experienced, too?
Or were offered? Nicodemus, the woman at the well, the accused woman, Thomas, Mary and Martha of Bethany, the blind man – they all found in Jesus God’s love and healing and an invitation to a new way of living and loving others in the life of God. A life at home, wherever they were.
Living in God’s abundant life now, John says, is being at home, for all who trust that Jesus is God-with-us. The Incarnation is restoration of that loving relationship with God our Creator had in mind from the beginning, a loving relationship that then transforms how we live with each other, with our neighbor. Loving as we have been loved.
Like Mary, you have healing of mind and heart from Jesus. Jesus is your true home.
When you pray, read Scripture, live in our community of faith, when we worship the Triune God together, you are palpably at home. The more your life centers around the undying love of God for you, the more you cling to God in Christ through the worst of life, the more you know God’s life. The more you know home.
It might feel in these times as if you’re separated from everything that matters to you. It’s not just that we can’t have liturgy all together in that holy space that so calls to us. It’s everything. Fear of loved ones getting sick, of the death toll rising, of the length of this crisis, of the possibility of more waves of it.
But isn’t that where Mary was on that early Sunday morning in the garden? She didn’t know how God was going to be with her. She thought she’d lost everything that tied her to life, to home.
But because she stubbornly clung to Jesus’ side, even when he was dead behind a stone wall, she was first to see what changed everything. She saw Christ Jesus raised from the dead. She heard her name called and knew she was home again.
She knew she was still loved by God, still called to be that love in the world.
Mary shows you where your home is.
As she invited the other disciples to see Jesus alive for themselves, she invites you: Come and see!
Come and see – the risen Christ is your true home in God, where you’ll find God’s abundant life, be filled with resurrection love, and God’s Spirit will pour through you, making you a living witness to that love by your life.
So that everyone will one day know they, too have life, and unlimited love from God. A true home.
In the name of Jesus. Amen