The other day I received an Easter card from a religious sister (who is becoming something of a mentor to me), which read in part: May we join the holy women who fell prostrate at the feet of the Risen Lord and adored Him!
I was really touched by the appropriateness of this greeting. Aside from the supreme example of Our Lady, the women in the Easter story are some of my favorite scriptural “role models,” especially as it pertains to my vocation.
While the four Gospels differ slightly in their accounts of the sequence of events on the morning of the Resurrection, all of them name women as the first people to see the empty tomb or to meet the risen Christ. The women were, in effect, the first public witnesses.
This is really a remarkable detail in God’s providential plan for the history of salvation, since in the contemporary culture a woman’s testimony could not be upheld in a court of law without a man to verify her story. Often, when people object to the Church’s teachings on the non-ordination of women to the priesthood, they claim that Jesus did not call women to be apostles simply because of the social constraints of that period. This episode highlights the fact that Jesus is and has always been the Lord of the universe, and He could (and did) call whomever He wanted to whatever He pleased!
I personally feel that it is a very great honor for all women to know that it was women whom God first called to see and to “proclaim” Christ’s resurrection from the dead. I also think that this story has for special significance for women in consecrated life.
As an aspiring consecrated virgin, I hope that through my efforts to love God with an undivided heart, I will grow in faith to the point where I can come to a very profound and personal understanding of the Paschal mystery. And by striving to reflect this understanding with my life, I hope that I too may act as a witness to the Resurrection.
On the morning of the Resurrection, Jesus told Mary Magdalene, “…go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”(John 20:17)
This is verse is particularly meaningful to me because part of the vocation to consecrated virginity in the world is the spiritual support of the local clergy—that is, Jesus’ “brothers”. I pray for the diocesan priesthood daily. But I also hope that the witness of my consecrated life, by being a reflection of the joy of Easter, will provide some encouragement for the clergy today, just as Mary Magdalene’s witness encouraged the original apostles.