When hoping against hope, brings hope

April 14, 2020 – Tuesday of the Octave of Easter

Click here for the readings (http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/041420.cfm)

Among the women friends of Jesus, perhaps Mary Magdalene was the closest to him. Mary Magdalene was closely following the Lord wherever he would be. Mary Magdalene was confident that God is in Jesus. She was most sure of it next to Mary, mother of Jesus. Thus, when the disciples fled and hid because of fear. Mary Magdalene together with other women remained. They followed Jesus until his death. Even when Jesus was brought down from the cross, Mary was surely there. Indeed, Mary was filled with grief and sadness when Jesus suffered and died.

Yet, despite the grief and sadness, Mary returned to that place of pain and darkness. She went to the tomb of Jesus. Why go there when it would only remind her of sadness and grief?

She went into the tomb at dawn, while it was still dark, the Gospel says. The darkness here means sadness and pain, yet, what is interesting was the dawn was breaking. The sun is soon to come out. Indeed, what Mary will witness is the victory of light over darkness.

This brings us into the kind of relationship Mary had with Jesus. Despite the grief and sadness, Mary did not just go away and give up even though her friend died. The sadness, disappointment and pain that she felt, urged her more actually to seek Jesus even in times of confusion and darkness in her life.

This reminds us of our experiences. When we too encounter difficulty and pain, sadness and frustrations, and even boredom in life, we might find ourselves to go away, to step back and become fearful.

There is something to learn from the friendship Mary Magdalene had with Jesus. It was a friendship that was beyond physical attraction and emotional attachment. It was a friendship built on trust, faith and confidence of being loved.

Even though Mary was confused and in pain, but, somehow, she knew in her heart that Jesus did not left them, and did not abandon her. She completely believed in Jesus. That is why, even in the seemingly senseless way of going to the tomb; Mary still went to hope against hope.

Mary recognized the Lord when Jesus said her name, “Mary!” Jesus has her way of calling the name of Mary and when she heard him, Mary opened her eyes from grief and sorrow and recognized that it was Jesus. It is the same when our parents would call us. We would always recognize that it is our mother or father calling us. It is the shared intimacy or the close relationship that we have that make us recognize the voice of the person. The Lord also has his own way of calling our names. Discover how God calls us!

Each of us is invited to develop this kind of friendship that Mary developed with Jesus. How do we develop it? Four points to remember.

  1. Be with Jesus always and follow him. Wherever Jesus went, Mary also followed. Thus, always seek the desire of Jesus for you to lead you where he wants you to go. You may ask, “What Jesus wants for me today?” So, as we continue to struggle with “community quarantine and physical distancing” ask this question so that you may follow him in your heart, in your mind and in your actions. Surely, when we are with Jesus, we will never get tired. We will be filled with joy and satisfaction.
  2. Allow Jesus to come to you and call your name. Like Mary, she allowed the Lord to come into her life and to call her name. Allow also Jesus to occupy your mind and heart. Receive him constantly through “Spiritual Communion” at this moment of quarantine until things get back to normal and you receive Him physically. Moreover, receive Jesus also through the Bible. You might want to begin to do “Bible sharing” in your family. This might be awkward at the beginning, but it will be enriching.
  3. Constantly pray. Mary learned from Jesus in praying to the Father in heaven. Through prayer, Mary became more aware also of herself and of God’s presence. Thus, since the quarantine has given us more time to be at home, pray. Grab this opportunity to gather as family to pray and reflect. While at home, you may also “tweet” with Jesus, speak “What’s on your mind?” and post to Jesus your “instragamable” feelings and concerns.
  4. Know that you are loved and forgiven. Mary accepted in her life that Jesus loved her and that through him she was forgiven. Despite her sins in the past, Jesus never condemned her, but accepted her because she is being loved.

All of these led Mary Magdalene to be ever grateful to Jesus. And because she was grateful, she was confident; she was filled with hope and became fearless. This is how Mary showed to us when hoping against hope, brings hope to us. 

This leads to Mary’s Easter Proclamation, “I HAVE SEEN THE LORD” 

Mary had seen the Lord. Going to the tomb was never useless and senseless because even in the midst of pain and confusion, God reveals himself.

We may also ask ourselves, “Have I also seen the Lord, in those times of difficulties and pain in my life?” or “How have I seen the Lord in these times of COVID-19 and Community Quarantine?

Mary’s painful experiences had become the ground for God to reveal himself to her. Mary’s relationship with Jesus was also the foundation of Mary’s keenness in recognizing Jesus in her life. And seeing Jesus, empowered Mary to become the “Apostle to the Apostles.”

By seeing the Lord, Mary was sent to become the first Missionary after the resurrection of Jesus. Mary was sent and so we are. Each of us who have seen the Lord in our life is also called to proclaim to others, “I have seen the Lord.” Hinaut pa.

Jom Baring, CSsR

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