April 14, 2020 Tuesday of the Octave of Easter
But Mary stayed outside the tomb weeping. And as she wept, she bent over into the tomb and saw two angels in white sitting there, one at the head and one at the feet where the body of Jesus had been. And they 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 had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus there, but did not know it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” She thought it was the gardener and said to him, “Sir, if you carried him away, tell me where you laid him, and I will take him.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni,” which means Teacher. Jesus said to her, “Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am going to my Father and your Father, to my Go d and your God.’” Mary of Magdala went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord,” and what he told her.
Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to accept your invitation to live a more mature faith in the face of desolation or disappointment.
1. The Great Gardener: We see well into the heart of Mary Magdalene, filled with grief-stricken sorrow at the loss of her beloved Jesus. Bent over the empty tomb, she is disconsolate and disoriented. Jesus knows how to give comfort to her aching heart. He turns her heartache into joy and her misery into delight by merely recognizing and acknowledging her, by calling her name. As the great gardener of our souls, teacher and Lord, he also knows how to cultivate lasting fruit in our lives. It’s important–a matter of spiritual life or death–that we spend time each day sitting with Jesus, acknowledging he is present, and waiting for him to call our name and reassure us that he is at work in our soul.
2. “Stop Holding onto Me”: Jesus asked Mary the same question he first posed to his early followers: What do you want? Whom are you looking for? It reveals Jesus’s utmost concern for the state of our hearts. Jesus cares about where we seek comfort, security, and assurance. If not in him, our desires will be frustrated and limited by self-centeredness. “Stop holding onto me.” These are seemingly harsh words encouraging Mary to lift her heart to the Father and ponder eternity, to elevate where and to whom she attaches her hopes and wants. His apparent reprimand is an exhortation for all of his disciples to set our hearts and minds on what is above, increasing our desire to follow him to the Father who waits for us in heaven, in the glory of eternity. St. Paul understood Christ’s words perfectly: “If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Think of what is above, not of what is on earth” (Colossians 3:2). This invitation is for all of us.
3. Rising from Darkness: Growth in faith is a personal and continuous journey from the darkness of no faith, to partial faith, and then finally to perfect faith. Initially, Mary’s seeing is clouded by disappointment, grief, emotion, and unspeakable sadness at the loss of being separated from the Lord. But the sound of Jesus’s voice and the use of her name gives her clear vision. She recognizes him and is filled with hope and joy. What does she do next? She becomes a model for every Christian as she obeys the Lord’s instruction to go and tell the other disciples, “I have seen the Lord.” We are also called, by his grace, to share our real and personal encounters with the Lord.
Conversing with Christ: Lord, your Easter appearance bids me to leave my tomb of self-absorption and hopelessness. Help me to look at the circumstances of my life from the renewed perspective of the Resurrection with Easter eyes. Let me not get stuck in the human limits of understanding but rather deepen and broaden my capacity for hope and faith in divine possibilities. May my humble efforts to share how you touch my life enable others, in this broken and hurting world, to rise from their tombs and live with hope and faith.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace, I will acknowledge your presence in my life, rejecting any spirit of helplessness or sadness despite the challenges that surround me, and offer an act of hope, gratitude, and praise for your grace at work in me.