Our Easter Sundays will be complete only when we hear and receive the full Resurrection message and recover women’s leadership along the way.
Currently, the Standard Roman Catholic Lectionary calls for only the first half of John’s resurrection narrative (John 20:1-9) on Easter Sunday morning. Verse 10 is never read and the rest of the narrative (verses 11-18) is not read on any Sunday — but instead is read on Easter Tuesday. Years ago, the days of Easter Week were holy days of obligation, and so all Catholics would have heard John 20:11-18 on Easter Tuesday. Yet, because Easter Tuesday is no longer a holy day of obligation, the vast majority of Roman Catholics never hear John’s full resurrection narrative as told in 20:1-18 and never hear the story of Mary of Magdala’s witness of Jesus’ resurrection nor Jesus commissioning her to deliver the news of his resurrection to the community.
In Canada, the entire narrative is read on Easter Sunday. In 1992 the Canadian Catholic Bishops updated their lectionary to include John’s full resurrection story. This amendment restored the story of the Apostle to the Apostles to its prominent role in the lectionary. Thus Canadian Catholics hear the whole story and learn from Jesus’ example of inclusive ministry and his faith in the leadership of women.
John 20:10-18 is significant because it makes clear that only Mary of Magdala was in the garden with Jesus and that she was directly commissioned as the primary apostolic witness to the community. It is John’s account of Jesus’ inclusive model of leadership that most strikingly and without reservation portrays Mary of Magdala, a woman, as the primary witness of the resurrected Jesus and the first one commissioned by him to “go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and yourFather, to my God and your God’ (Jn 20:14-17).”
Download our Gospel Restoration Project to help bring the whole Easter story to your community!