Did you notice in our first reading how many women St. Paul indicated had worked very hard with him. There are least a dozen starting with Phoebe, Pricilla and Aquila, and continuing through Julia and the sister of Nereus. Somehow from other writings of St. Paul a person can get the understanding that he believed women were inferior to men, but as we can see in his letter to the Romans, and as those of us participated in the discussion on Garry Wills' book "What Paul Meant", he considered women to have a basic equality with men, defining them as coworkers, prophets, and teachers. He not only considered them equal but as well sent this letter to the Romans by way of Phoebe the woman he introduces in it, emphasizing her importance both to him and to the Bothers in general.

Paul was following Jesus' lead in considering women equal to men as exemplified in Jesus choosing the woman we honor today as the first person to see him after he rose from the dead. She is considered to be the apostle of the Apostles in that she announced to them that Jesus had risen from the dead.

Now who was the woman we honor today? We know from Scripture that she was the woman out of whom 7 devils had gone, that she was with Jesus for much of his ministry, and without question she was faithful to him to the end of his life and beyond. Was she that woman who had washed his feet, anointed his head, or even the sister of Lazarus who listened to him at his feet? There is no scriptural evidence of those but from scripture we can validly conclude that she found in Jesus the answer to her hopes and longings for unconditional love. She wanted to be with him, drink in his words, learn from his life and live to serve him. She, by way of her love for him followed him to the foot of the cross in spite of what others thought or what might have been politically correct. After announcing to the Apostles that Jesus' body was not in the tomb she was the one who returned to the tomb to mourn and was given the gift to be the first to see him resurrected.

Why did Jesus appear to her and not to Peter? It was Jesus judgment that the message that changed the world had to be delivered by a someone known for their love and faithfulness. Not many of us are gifted preachers or learned theologians, but we too can evangelize as Mary did. All Mary did was talk about what she saw and experienced, and through her testimony the Holy Spirit changed the world.

Now the same is true for you and me. Jesus wants us to know him personally and intimately, more than we know our closest family member. He wants to bring us to his Father, our Father, so that we can know the privilege of being coheirs with him of the kingdom of heaven. Jesus has done much in each of our lives just as he had done in the life of Mary Magdalene . She and we have been loved, we have been healed, and we have been forgiven and reconciled. In this light, we too can be bold and daring as Mary Magdalene was, staying close to him in good times and bad. Loving him and trusting him unconditionally and staying always close to him. That's the only way we will know the blessings she knew.

So your prayer and mine today and every day might be: Jesus you chose Mary Magdalene to be the first witness to your resurrection. Help me to love you as she did and reflect it by my life. Lord Jesus, give me the boldness and courage of Mary Magdalene to always be close to you and help others to do the same.

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