Our Lady, the First Witness
It is not only a pious opinion that the Risen Savior first appeared to His Mother Mary on Easter Sunday. No less than six Doctors of the Church, including SS. Ambrose, Anselm and Albert the Great held that Our Lady was the first witness of the Resurrection. Pope Benedict XIV declared that this fact is "based on the tradition proclaimed by ancient architectural and liturgical monuments, starting from Jerusalem itself."
Therefore it is not surprising that St. Ignatius of Loyola in his Spiritual Exercises simply assumes that Jesus "appeared in body and soul to His Blessed Mother" immediately after rising from the dead. In fact, Ignatius makes this Marian mystery the first of fourteen meditations on the risen life of Christ. It is also the key meditation which introduces the capstone of the Spiritual Exercises, the "Contemplation for Obtaining Divine Love." We are to learn from Mary that "love ought to be found in deeds rather than words," and that "love consists in mutual interchange on either side."
The Resurrection Fulfills the Annunciation
Over the centuries, the Church's masters of the spiritual life have explained why Christ opened His forty days on earth after the Resurrection by appearing to His Mother. It is because the Resurrection was the fulfillment of the Annunciation.
- At the Annunciation, Mary submitted her will by faith to the word of God. At the Resurrection, her faith was rewarded by actually seeing and speaking with her glorified Son.
- At the Annunciation, Mary represented the human race still needing to be redeemed. At the Resurrection, She represented the human race already redeemed.
- At the Annunciation, Mary became Mother of the Redeemer by giving Him the human nature with which He offered Himself on the cross. At the Resurrection, She received Him in her arms, after having received from Him on Calvary the Motherhood of the Church.
- At the Annunciation, Mary accepted her vocation to suffer with her Son in His mission of redeeming the world from sin. On Easter Sunday, She shared with Him in the joy of His glorious Resurrection.