Mary First Notes
Jesus Christ: His Life, His Teaching and His Work,
EASTER SUNDAY Pages 414-415
No one more than the Blessed Virgin had the right to this favor. Associated with the whole Passion of Jesus. she had drained with him the chalice of bitterness. Was it not just that she before all others should share the joys of his triumph? Can anyone doubt that the first visit of a Son so loving, the perfect model of filial piety, would be to his Mother? Jesus is to show himself to Peter who denied him, to the Apostles who cravenly abandoned him, to the disciples of Emmaus who had almost ceased to hope in him. Will he forget or forsake his Mother? Christian feeling refuses to believe it; and this feeling, according to the most esteemed theologians, is conformed to truth.11 If the Gospel does not mention this first apparition, it is, according to the Abbot Rupert, because the Gospel enumerates only the witnesses to the Resurrection and because a mother's testimony in favor of her son is not acceptable.12
It is better to say, with St. Ignatius, that the Gospel supposes that we are endowed with intelligence. But the Gospel, if we know how to read it is not mute. When it describes the holy women eagerly busying themselves around the Saviour's tomb as soon as the Sabbath rest is over, it makes no reference to Jesus' Mother. Is it not that the Evangelists would have us understand that Mary holds aloof from these loving offices because she knows that they are superfluous?13 At the time when others went to look for Jesus among the dead, she had already seen him living and glorious.
In tears she waited for him during the long night that preceded the Resurrection. Finally a ray of light penetrated into her narrow cell where she was at prayer. Is it the first ray of the newborn day? No, it is he. It is her Jesus. She falls into his arms without any fear of hearing those words that Magdalene will soon hear: "Hold me not, for I have not yet ascended to my Father." Such a prohibition is not for her who is outside all rules. Who can imagine the confidences poured out by such a mother and such a son? Who ... ?
11. Suarez (In Part III, q. Iv, disp, 49, sect. 1, no. 2) says, "Absque ulla dubitatione credendum." The same is expressed by Benedict XIV, De festis, I, viii, 45. Estius objects that Mary, to believe, had no need of an apparition; but that was not the reason why she was favored with one. The first of the ancient authors who speaks of this apparition is Sedulius, a fifth-century poet (Carmen paschale, v, 360-366, and the corresponding Opus paschale in prose, ML, XIX, 743). St. Ambrose is often, though wrongly, cited (De virginit., 3; ML, XVI, 270); in this passage he is not speaking of the Blessed Virgin, but of that one of the two Mary Magdalenes who, in his theory, was a virgin.
12. Rupert (De divinis officiis, vii, 25; ML, CLXX, 207), with the approval of Salmeron, Maldonatus, and a number of other exegetes, answers the difficulty drawn from Mark (16:9), "apparuit primo Mariae Magdalenae." He thinks that the custom of the Roman Church in placing the statio for Easter at St. Mary Major confirms our opinion.
13. St. Bernard (Vitis mystica ii, no. 4; ML, CLXXXIV, 640) offers this idea with all reserve; "Fortasse propterea … non venit cum aliis … quia frustra putabat eum ungi quem resurrecturum sciebat."
Jesus Christ: His Life, His Teaching and His Work
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