Perhaps the most radical Christian belief is a belief in the equal and innate dignity and worth of every single person. It subverts every cultural, historical, and biological form of unjust prejudice. St. Paul articulates it clearly in saying, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Of course, the history of prejudice and inequality, of dehumanization and depersonalization is long and ugly, and the struggle in our culture and within our faith to accept this belief and translate it fully into just practices persists to this day.
But today’s Gospel shows that this mission, so integral to building the kingdom of God, so radical and subversive, has been with the Church since the beginning. St. Mary Magdalene, the apostle to the apostles, who remains courageous and faithful during the Passion and after the death of Christ while others are afraid and dejected, is the first to hear of the resurrection. Immediately after, we hear from Mark that she is the first to see Christ after the resurrection. In an unquestionably patriarchal society, Christ first appears to a woman to reveal the most important news in human history: death has been conquered. The hope of redemption, the hope of eternal life, the hope of communion with God and one another—all of these are found in the resurrection. And this is not just a message for men or the strong or members of a certain race or ethnicity; it offers universal hope and a universal call to embrace the love that shatters all unjust prejudice and discrimination so that we might all be one.