How many times have you heard people say, “You shouldn’t wear your religion on your sleeve” or “Faith should be kept private?” Many times, I am sure. But faith, while personal, it is not meant to be kept private. It is not meant to be kept locked away for us as a treasure that we sit upon and guard. It is a gift to be shared with others.
Over the years, you have probably noticed many billboards and notices urging people to be vigilant to prevent crime with the slogan, “If you see something, say something.” The underlying message is that we should not be silent if we see something that might warrant further attention. The timing of our words and actions make all the difference. During this Easter season, Mary Magdalene, in particular, reminds us of the importance of speaking out and not being a silent observer when it comes to our faith.
Courageously, after the crucifixion, Mary Magdalene went to the place where Jesus was entombed. And yet, when Jesus appeared before her, Mary Magdalene did not recognize him. In fact, she asked Jesus if he was the gardener! The Gospel of John paints the following scene for us: “Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Mary!’ She turned and said to him in Hebrew, ‘Rabbouni!’ (which means teacher)” (Jn 20:15-16).
Jesus tells Mary Magdalene to go to the disciples and tell them what she has seen. And she does. She rushes back to share the good news. In a sense, this is the choice that we must make every day for our faith. We can stay silent about the impact that Jesus and the Catholic Church has made upon our lives or we can give witness to the difference that faith has made in our lives through our words and deeds. God relies on the goodness of those whom he loves to share him with others. He does not force himself into our lives. God has given us free will. The love of God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit is visible in the world when we give and receive love and go and share the good news with others.
There are many today who have lost a living sense of faith. There are some who will doubt us. There are others who will reject us. They are our family, our friends and people we work with. But there are many who will come to believe because we believe, who come to see the face of Jesus because we show them the face of Jesus — in our words and actions.
During this Easter season especially, we are urged in the Scriptures to be people who reveal the joy of the risen Lord and share him with others. As St. John Paul II said, “We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song.”
Mary Magdalene, in her tenacity and courageous witness, reminds us that at the heart of our faith is a relationship with a living person, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who wants us to share him with the world. Each Lent and Easter season we die unto ourselves to rise again with Christ. By our conviction of heart and mind, we, too, are a witness to the resurrection. During this Easter season, can you say like Mary Magdalene, “I have seen the Lord?” (Jn 20:18). If you have seen something, say something! If you have seen Jesus, share Jesus.
Stanz is director of the diocesan Department of New Evangelization. She is the author of “Developing Disciples of Christ” and co-author of “The Catechist’s Backpack.”