From Luke 8:1-3 and John 20:11-18
I can’t stop weeping. It’s as if I swallowed the sea and now it’s coming down my face, soaking my hair and my robe. It’s a deluge of snot and salty water. The spices I had been carrying to the tomb are all over my hands. I dropped the bowl of them when we arrived and saw that the stone had been rolled aside. The smell of myrrh and cinnamon are mixed with the tears are on my face. I try to wipe my cheeks with my wrists but end up getting spices in my eyes instead. More tears come, as if that’s possible.
Jesus is gone.
I can’t believe that his body is missing. The others ran back to the group to tell them that someone had taken his body, but I can’t move. I’ve been following this man for years. And now I can’t find him. I feel as if I will melt to the ground. I don’t think I can go on. The pain of his death and now his disappearance is too much.
I wipe my eyes again. They sting.
A branch cracks and I look up. There is a man in front of me. He must be the gardener.
“Sir!” I say and reach out my hand. I try to look up at him but my vision is cloudy. I blink fast. Maybe he knows something. “Did you see who took my Lord? I need to find him. Can you help me?”
“Why are you weeping?” He says. “Who are you seeking?”
“I am seeking my Lord,” I say. Finally my eyes clear. “Tell me where you have laid him, if you have moved him, I will take him.”
I see the face of the gardener. It’s beautiful.
“Mary.” He says my name.
It reminds me of the day that he saved me.
I pick up the jar then put it down, I pick it up again then put down. I snatch it, let out a scream and hurl it at the wall. People scatter around me. They look at me like I’m crazy. What are they looking at? I screech at them. The sound echoes around the market.
“Get away from me.” I snarl. They disappear, like usual.
I scramble to the jar, it’s shattered. Perfect, I think. No, wait. Whose jar is this? Why have I broken it? I pick up a shard and I scrape it along the top my foot. I see the red beads of blood glisten and I’m delighted. I’m bleeding. So beautiful, I stare at it. Then I take a sharp edge to my palm.
Stop it. I say to them. But they never listen. They never give heed to what I want. Get out of here. I say to them but they laugh at me and snarl. I can see their teeth in my head.
Oh, Mary. They taunt me. Silly Mary. You’re ours. We won’t leave.
I pick up another piece of pottery and put it between my teeth. I chomp down on it as hard as I can. I wince as I feel a tooth break. They laugh and place another piece in my mouth.
It’s getting worse. I push, they push back, I push again, they push back again. Sometimes I win. But not often and not lately. It’s been too long. I’m too tired to fight. They have taken over this body. I’m no longer Mary.
I begin to cry and they laugh at me even harder. Poor Mary. They say. You used to be so pretty. Now look at you, Mary. Look what you’ve done to yourself, they say. I look at my hands and they’re right. They don’t belong to me. They belong to them. They’re covered in bruises and gashes. So are my feet.
I don’t know half the things I do.
Look what you’ve done to me, I say to them. We’ve made you better, they say and laugh, we’ve made you prettier. They take me to a booth where a man is selling mirrors. See? They say. Gorgeous. I am horrified. My face is sunk and my eyes are empty, there are deep wounds on my cheeks. Chunks of my hair are missing. What is left hangs limp and dirty around my face. I don’t even recognize myself.
A woman is staring at me. I throw a piece of the jar at her. It hits her in the shoulder and she hurries away.
They laugh again. I cry in agony.
My mother, I want my mother. I say to them. You can’t have your mother. They say. She left you, remember? She left us. Couldn’t handle it anymore. She’s gone. Good riddance.
I miss her terribly. She helped me fight for so long. But then they became too strong.
I’ve been with the demons for years. I used to be able to live with them better than I can now. I had more control. I used to live in a house, sleep in a bed and eat food. Now all I eat is stale trash. I spend most of the day roaming the alleyways of the market.
I run back to the brick wall. If I bang my head into it hard enough I blackout. This is my only escape when it becomes too much. The first try doesn’t work. I crouch, preparing to run into it a second time.
The air shifts and the hair on my neck tingles, I stand up straight and look around.
Someone is coming.
The demons are stirred. I stumble to the wall and then back and to the wall again.
There he is, that’s him. Who is he?
Jesus of Nazareth! The demons are saying.
It’s Jesus of Nazareth.
I don’t know who he is. Can he help me?
“Help me!” I yell to him. I put my arm toward him but the demons whip me around. I’m running the opposite direction, away from Jesus of Nazareth.
“Stop.” Jesus’ voice rings clear across the market and my body stops. I turn and the demons let out a howl that I’ve never heard before. It echoes like we’re in a cavern.
“Jesus of Nazareth,” they yell from my mouth. “We know who you are. The son of the Most High God.”
“Come out of her.” Jesus says. “Now.”
My body shakes and they shriek as they leave. It smells like burning flesh for a moment and then they are gone.
There were seven of them.
I look up and into the face of my healer. He stands before me with his hand out to me. I take it, wincing at the pain of the gashes in my palm.
“Hi Mary.” He says to me. And I stare at him. My name from his lips is like a song. The most beautiful melody that I had ever heard. It is a song of freedom.
I am Mary again.
“Mary.” He says to me outside the tomb. He holds out his hand and I can see the marks in his palms. I turn over my hand and look at my scars. I place my scars on his scars.
“Rabbi.” I say to him. There is such life in his eyes and cheeks, as if it was restored to him ten thousand times stronger than it had been before he was crucified.
Of course, he’s alive. Of course, he’s here. Why did I doubt?
I gasp. That means he’s truly the son of God. He rose from the dead! He’s the son of God!
I throw my arms around him. He laughs.
He pulls me from him and smiles.
I look up into the face of my healer. It’s the face of freedom.
Jesus spent a lot of his time casting out demons. His merciful healing saved the lives of many men, women and children who were possessed by them, demonstrating God’s great power over them and love for his people. Although Mary’s actual possession isn’t in the gospels, you can read accounts of possession in Luke 8:26-39 or Luke 9: 37-43, just to name a few.