Friday, July 22, 2016

A Love that Changes Everything

By Colleen O’Sullivan

The watchmen came upon me, as they made their rounds of the city:  Have you seen him whom my heart loves?  I had hardly left them when I found him whom my heart loves.  (Song of Songs 3:3-4a)

And the (two angels sitting in the tomb) said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken my Lord, and I don’t know where they laid him.”  When she said this, she turned around and saw Jesus there, but did not know it was Jesus…  Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni,” which means Teacher. (John 20:13-14, 16)

O God, you are my God whom I seek;
for you, my flesh pines and my soul thirsts
like the earth, parched, lifeless and without water.
(Psalm 63:2)

As I pondered today’s Scripture readings, I thought about words attributed to Pedro Arrupe, SJWhat you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything.  It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you will do with your evenings, how you will spend your weekends, what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in love, stay in love and it will decide everything.

Certainly, that seems to be true for Mary Magdalene.  In Luke’s Gospel (ch. 8, vs. 2), we are told that Jesus healed many women as he made his way from village to village, including this Mary.  She had been beset by seven demons, but we are not told any more than that.  For a long time, it was believed she was the unnamed sinner in Luke 7:36-50, but more recent scholarship holds that that was an error, that St. Mary Magdalene was not a prostitute.  So, all we know is that her life was dragged down in some way, physical or emotional, by these demons.

And then Mary meets Jesus as he travels throughout the countryside.  He does what no one else has been able to do.  He rids her of those demons.  He heals her.  He lifts up her soul.  He restores her dignity.  He gives her another chance at a life filled with joy and purpose.

What you are in love with… will affect everything.  From the moment Mary encountered Jesus, she was filled with love for this itinerant preacher from Nazareth.  And it did affect everything in her life.  Even when her beloved Jesus hung dying on the Cross, she couldn’t stay away.  She was there, silently, prayerfully supporting him with her love in those difficult final hours.   That can’t be said of all of Jesus’ apostles.  Even in death, she stayed with him.  She got up while it was still dark so she could go to the tomb and sit with his body.  Again, that can’t be said of all Jesus’ followers.  Finding the tomb empty deepened her grief.  Even his body was gone.

But all that changed in a matter of moments.  When Jesus revealed himself to her, she didn’t recognize him, but the instant he said her name, she knew it was the Lord!  At Jesus’ bidding, she joyfully ran to tell the others that everything would be okay.  Their friend and teacher, Jesus, had overcome death!

St. Mary Magdalene shows us how deep love truly does dictate what a person does from morning till night and defines what you hold dear.  How does your love for Jesus shape your days and your life?

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