There is a lot of confusion about Mary Magdalene in pop culture. Many people identify her with the adulteress whom Jesus saves from public stoning or the prostitute who gate-crashes a Pharisee’s dinner party to wash Jesus’ feet. Others mistake her for Mary of Bethany, the sister of Martha and Lazarus.

Biblical scholars tell us that those are all different characters. Mary Magdalene is, in fact, one of Jesus’ closest disciples and supporters. We see this close relationship in this Easter scene, when Mary is inconsolable because she believes that “they have taken away [her] Lord.”

The Risen Lord appears to her, but despite their closeness, she does not recognize Him and mistakes Him for the gardener. It is when He calls her by her name, using the tone that He has always used, that she finally recognizes Jesus.

This scene teaches us one important truth about the Risen Lord. He is not easily recognizable. When the Risen Lord shows up in our lives, chances are, we will not be able to immediately identify Him–even His closest disciples couldn’t!

His Easter appearances in our lives will always be wrapped in mystery. We will be able to detect His Presence, the way Mary Magdalene did, but if and only if we get to know Him and grow familiar with Him.

This is why prayer is so important. Prayer is the time when we nurture our relationship with the Lord and create memories with Him. Without time spent with Him in prayer, without exerting the effort to speak with Him and to listen to Him, we will never know when the Risen Lord shows up in our lives.

Take a moment to think about your prayer life–not during Holy Week or during a retreat, but in ordinary times.

Given all your responsibilities at work and at home, how can you spend quality time with the Lord in prayer?

If you’re like most people, you probably need to do something about the way you spend time on social media, Netflix, and the like. What baby step can you take to better manage your time?

If we don’t make a conscious decision to redesign our life, we will never get to know the Risen Lord and will fail to recognize His Presence and Action in our lives.