“Now after he rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons.” (Mk 16: 9)
Just as the Lord always paid special attention to the outcasts and the most humbled during His earthly mission, so in His resurrection does He first and foremost honor the most humbled Mary Magdalene, a woman “from whom he had cast out seven demons.” Because seven is a symbol of completeness, this means she had been completely “devil-ridden,” as noted by one commentator. Similarly, the lapsed Apostle Peter, who had thrice denied Christ during His passion and bitterly wept over his denial, is singled out by the angel who announced the Lord’s resurrection. He sends Peter a special message: “But go,” says the angel to the women, “tell his disciples and Peter…” (Mk 16:7) Some have understood this to be a rebuke of Peter, an exclusion of Peter from “the disciples,” as if the joyous news of the resurrection is sent with a rebuke. But note that only Peter is mentioned by name; by the name the Lord had given him. This is doubtlessly an honor.
On this Sunday, when we sing “Having seen the resurrection of Christ, let us worship the holy Lord Jesus…,” (a hymn from the Byzantine Sunday Vigil), I am reminded that this vision, of the risen Lord, is indeed given to all of us, and first and foremost to the most humbled and repentant. I am not excluded from “seeing,” – nor is anyone, however complete their “devil-riddenness” has been, nor how deep they have fallen in the past. In humility and repentance I can receive the special message and vision of the resurrection, of triumph over sin and death in Him. For this I give thanks today to the risen Lord, “падшим подаяй воскресение” (Who grants resurrection to the fallen).