So last week was Easter, and Christ is Risen! We heard the Resurrection story from the gospel of John, where Mary Magdalene is the first person in history to see the risen Jesus. Unlike Jesus’ male disciples, Mary did not flee at the horror of the crucifixion. And unlike Peter, she cannot leave the tomb. Consequently, she will become the first witness to Easter. And when Jesus tasks her to inform the other disciples of his coming, Mary Magdalene is made the first missionary. Some of us are likely familiar to some extent with the figure of Mary Magdalene, either from readings or, if we’re honest, watching the Davinci Code. But let us take a moment to peer more closely at Mary of the gospels, at her story in relation to Jesus’s story. Mary Magdalene is recorded in the gospels as one of several women who travelled with Jesus and the disciples in Galilee, supporting the Jewish teacher and his ministry. Jesus has been her spiritual teacher, both God and friend. Mary had been healed by Jesus, who, among other things, was an incredibly powerful exorcist; according to the gospel of Luke, Jesus cast out of Mary Magdalene seven demons.
Today, we don’t typically use the language of demons as much (because it’s weird and creepy not how our culture talks about morally destructive forces). But if we did decide to get a little weird and creepy and uncomfortable, we would then have the power to ask, “What are our demons?” Is it that the laundry is never finally finished? Is it that we feel alone even in the midst of our communities? Is it that we speak when we should have been silent, but remained silent when we should have spoken? Is it guilt? Confusion? Business beyond measure? Is it a gnawing anxiety about a future that we can’t see? Is it that somewhere along the way we were taught that we could never possibly be enough? Is it that we were told to be ashamed of who God made us to be? All those things that eat at us, that keep us from peace, those are our demons. We all have them. And we should never be ashamed of having them. But if we can recognize them and name them, then we might be a little more willing to let God cast them out. Our demons won’t get the last word, whatever they may be. Maybe Mary Magdalene knew that in her heart. Maybe that’s part of why she was waiting at the tomb. Easter morning broke history wide open, and Mary’s demons lost their power when Christ called her name. Easter has come again for us, and Christ is calling our names, too.