Maggie Green Cambria ‘88
In the midst of great grief, as with the death of a loved one, it is often difficult to know that God is near. In this Gospel, Mary Magdalene weeps, and both the angels and Jesus ask her why she is weeping. She does not yet know what they know—that Jesus is risen from the dead—and she doesn’t even recognize her good friend, Jesus, standing in front of her. The enormity of her grief clouds her vision.
I can relate to being blind to Christ and lost in a grief-stricken fog.
When my younger sister, Annie, took her life on a hot July day in 2004, my whole world went black. Annie was a beautiful, 24-year-old working artist, having graduated at the top of her class from DePaul’s art program in Chicago. My parents, my two brothers, my three surviving sisters, and I were devastated, heartbroken, lost.
Thankfully, we are Irish Catholics. I was surrounded by many like-minded believers. My dearest gal pals from Notre Dame and from my Catholic grade school and high school came to the wake and the funeral. They stayed with me, watched my two young children, and cooked for me and my family. Newly-found friends in my local parish sent me books, flowers, notes, and memorial Mass cards. They prayed for me and gave witness to the risen Christ through their words and deeds. They reminded me that Jesus was in my midst, even though Annie was not.
So too, in this Gospel, friendship turns grief into joy. The friendship between Mary and Jesus allows her to hear him when he called her by name. All four Gospel writers recognize Mary as the first witness to the resurrection, the first to share the good news of Jesus’ rising with the world. She is proof that beyond great grief we will find great joy.