After the Crucifixion, we hear that the womenfolk who had accompanied Jesus to the cross, began the preparatory work of putting the spices, oils, and herbs together, so as to anoint the corpse of Jesus the next day. They could not do this work there and then, as the Sabbath was upon them. According to Jewish custom, before burial, the body of the deceased is washed in warm water, and then anointed with fragrant oils, made from a mixture of aloes and myrrh, before it was placed in a burial shroud that had herbs and aromatics woven in them. With the Roman empire, this custom was slightly modified, the full-body shroud, became a sheet that was placed over the body, the arms and the limbs were bound together in bands of cloth, usually linen, and another cloth was placed over the face, before the body was carried into an upper chamber for the funeral. The burial was to happen within 24 hours of the death. The Jewish people did not embalm their corpses like the Egyptians did (Pilarczyk, n.d).

However, the subsequent day, something odd occurs. Mother Mary does not join the other women who headed to the tomb at dawn.

There are some reasons for this. Some saints have proposed that Mother Mary was one of the first whom Jesus appeared to after the resurrection. Pope St. John Paul II puts forth the proposition that Mary not going to the tomb at dawn, hints to us that she had already met Jesus. These women were faithful women, and of all the women, Mother Mary was the most faithful. It would make sense for Jesus to appear to his mother first of all the disciples. Pope St. John Paul II also reminds us of the unique role that Mother Mary had in standing at the foot of the cross, bearing the weight and the full intensity of the crucifixion as she watched the child she had bore in her womb in his agony. As she shared in the fullness of his passion and death, this appearance of Jesus to her at the Resurrection would be part of “completing in this way her participation in all the essential moments of the paschal mystery.”

So it’s “reasonable to think that Mary, as the image and model of the Church which waits for the Risen One and meets him in the group of disciples during his Easter appearances, had had a personal contact with her risen Son, so that she too could delight in the fullness of paschal joy.” This would also bring Scripture to fulfilment, as Wisdom 1:2 says, “The Lord shows himself to those who have faith in him.” (Pronechan, 2021)

Another reason is that Mother Mary already had a foretaste of what the Resurrection would entail. In Luke’s Gospel, the Gospel attributed to bearing the perspective from the Blessed Mother herself, we do not read much of the events of Jesus’ life after the infancy narratives and between the time of his public ministry. However, somewhere in the middle, there is a jolt back to the time when Jesus was a youth in Luke 2: 41-52. Jesus, together with Joseph and Mary, head to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of the Passover, and Jesus goes missing for three days. At the end of this ordeal for his parents, he is finally reunited back with them again after the third day. Mother Mary is gifted a moment where there is a hint and glimpse of God’s plan to prepare her heart for the eventual time of the Cross and Resurrection. This foretaste is repeated in Luke 18:31-33, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written of the Son of man by the prophets will be accomplished. For he will be delivered to the Gentiles, and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon; they will scourge him and kill him, and on the third day he will rise.” The finding in the temple, is thus a gift and a prophetic occurrence. By the time of Jesus’ crucifixion, Joseph is no longer around, thus this becomes clear, that whatever unfolded in Jesus’ youth was meant for Mary.

As such, “…when the sabbath was past, Mary Mag′dalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salo′me, bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him” (Mark 16:1) and we discover that Mother Mary is absent from the tomb, we should not be caught by surprise, for while these faithful women were expecting a dead body, Mother Mary somehow knew that there was no body to anoint (Heschmeyer, 2015).

This Easter, which story of the faithful woman resonates with me – am I like the women who still believe in Christ but think of the Resurrection as something far away, making preparations to anoint a dead body, or am I like Mary, the Mother of Jesus who truly believes that Christ has risen, has experienced the fullness and joy of the Resurrection, and thus am forever transformed by such a profound certainty and truth?


By the Grace of God,

Brian Bartholomew Tan




Heschmeyer, J. (2015). Mary’s Foretaste of the Resurrection. Word on Fire. Retrieved April 6, 2024 from


Pilarczyk, K. (n.d.). Jewish burial customs and the shroud. Digital Sindonological Lexicon. Jagiellonian University. Retrieved April 6, 2024 from


Pronechan, J. (2021). After his Resurrection, Jesus appeared first to His Mother Mary, say the Saints. National Catholic Register. Retrieved April 6, 2024, from