“When Jesus had risen, early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons.” (Mark 16:9)
Popular Catholic piety sometimes posits that the newly risen Jesus appears first to the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is a happy thought, but it’s simply not what the scriptures report. We are told quite directly that he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, “out of whom he had driven seven demons.”
Why would the gospel writer remind us of this unsavory detail of Mary’s past? Historians tell us women were not qualified to give legal testimony. On top of that, to be possessed by not just one, but seven demons, is unsavory and terrifying. What damage had they done to her? What did she do to allow herself to be home to such evil? It doesn’t seem to matter. Jesus chose Mary Magdalene to be the first one who saw him risen from the dead. He decided she was qualified.
Do you think that you are disqualified from seeing and announcing the risen Jesus because of your past demons? Maybe they are the demons of despair, confusion, self-hatred, pride, addiction, failure, boredom, laziness, or other sins. Well, don’t. In the light of the Risen Jesus, all these past demons make our witness that much more believable — only if we allow ourselves to be touched by the liberating hand of Christ, just as Mary Magdalene did.
— Father John Muir