My all-time favorite bible scene is that of Mary Magdalene sobbing at Christ's feet and drying her tears and the ointment with her hair. I love to think about Jesus gently reaching down to hold her and bless her with His forgiveness. It must have been an amazing scene, especially since from that day forward, she never sinned again. I don't know about you, but no matter how many times I am forgiven, I always seem to fall back into those same old patterns that sent me seeking forgiveness in the first place. Maybe the next time I go to confession, I should bring an alabaster jar of aromatic nard with me!
Think of that alabaster jar, smashed and broken open, releasing not only fragrance, but extravagant love and sorrow for sin. Once that jar which represented her life was broken, it was impossible for Mary Magdalene to put back the pieces of her former way of living; she had to change! And as she peered through her tears, her liquid prayer freely spilling from her soul-windows, how clearly she could see the beauty of Jesus and how deeply she longed to make amends for all of the sorrow she had caused Him. The joy she felt at his loving response surely must have caused those tears of repentance to turn to tears of joy. And from that day on, she remained close to Him, hanging onto His every word, watching His every movement, loving Him with all her heart and wanting nothing more than to model her life after His example. Perhaps for the short time that she was with Him during His ministry she was so joyful that she cried no more.
But outside the empty tomb what should have been an occasion for joy was instead confusing and tearful. Where was He, the One she loved? And when she finally saw Him through those tear-filled eyes, He said "touch me not." Touch me not. Those three words make me cry every time I think of them. But did she continue to cry as He spoke those words? Or did she understand that her touch was now meant to be lovingly shared with others; that He intended to work through her instead of simply for her? Did she revel in His resurrection as a joy beyond comprehension and no longer needed to have the ability to physically touch Him?
Sweet Mary Magdalene,
Did it break your heart when you heard "touch me not"? Did you continue to shed sometimes tears after His resurrection? As you faithfully served Him by spreading the fragrance of your deep love to others, were the only tears you sometimes shed those of joy? Or did your sometimes tears fall out of love for all of humanity who suffer through sin as you did? Teach me to be like you and not to be afraid to shed sometimes tears for those who suffer. Help me to understand that those drops of liquid prayer can reveal the loving and tender Heart of Jesus to myself and to the world around me, and through them the sweet fragrance of love will perfume the air like aromatic nard released from my often hard and sinful heart, making it soft and holy like His and like yours.
|Mary Magdalene from Rogier van der Weyden's Descent from the Cross|