Though we have no record of Mary Magdalene's thoughts that Sunday morning so many years ago, I imagine that she, like anyone who had recently lost a loved one, had a number of conflicting emotions. Anticipation and hope, since Mary, as a constant follower of Jesus, would have believed - and wanted to believe - that he would rise from the dead, as he had promised; relief, because Jesus' suffering had come to an end; sorrow and fear, because after all she had seen him undergo a painful and ignominious death and now she ran the risk of marking herself as loyal to a "dangerous criminal."
Mary must have been thinking also of her own loss: How would her life be changed by the death of her teacher? And would Jesus ever know of, or appreciate, her visit to his tomb? Thus preoccupied, still she went. Whether her presence was noticed or not, useful or not, dangerous or not, she wanted to be near the Lord she loved.
Mary Magdalene's faith and love, attested to by the simple act of visiting Jesus' tomb, were rewarded: She was graced by the privilege of being witness to his Resurrection and trusted with the task of bearing word of it to his disciples. While none of us will be blessed in exactly the same way, her story exemplifies that the risen Lord will reward our humble acts of faith.
And for many of us who, like the father begging Jesus to heal his son, are moved to exclaim, "Lord, I believe; help Thou my unbelief" (Mark 9:24), there is perhaps a deeper message: Unworthy and inadequate as we often feel when faced with the challenge of witnessing to our faith, the Lord will take and build on the efforts we make, however small or seemingly useless they may be. If we look, each of us can find, and be inspired by, people in our own time who give testament to this encouraging fact.