July 22, 2020 – Wednesday; Feast of St. Mary Magdalene, disciple of the Lord
Click here for the readings (http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/072220.cfm)
How do you live your life? Are living in your past? Then, that makes you a prisoner of the past. Are you living in the future and of what is to come? Then, that makes you live in anxiety because of uncertainty.
The only way we could live a life that is fulfilled and contented even in the midst of trials and sufferings is to live in our present. To live in the past whether because of a painful or joyful memory is a baggage that we carry in the present. This distracts us to be more aware of our present moment because we are occupied with what happened with us in the past. When we continue to hold on to what was already past, then we also become bitter and angry in the present. This happens because we prevent new people, new ideas or new invitations to disturb us to move forward.
Moreover, when we are also overwhelmed with expectations and with what we want to have for tomorrow, we also become restless in our present moment. Our anxieties and insecurities may control how we relate with people and with God. As a result, we could become impatient because we want immediate satisfaction and instant results.
The woman, whose feast we celebrate today, reminds me of the importance to live in the present, to capture the moment and to be ever grateful of what is here and now. Mary Magdalene, portrayed for many centuries as dirty and sinful woman, never allowed her dark past to control on how she lived with the present. She never let herself be overwhelmed of her future and to be anxious of what was to come next. She was just contented and fulfilled with what God gave her in every moment of her life.
This made Mary Magdalene to be a dear disciple of Jesus and called as the woman apostle to the apostles. I want to invite you now that we bring ourselves into her story as told to us in the Gospel of John.
The Gospel on her feast tells us of Mary’s encounter with the risen Jesus. There are three interesting events here that I would like to highlight.
First, John tells us that Mary went to the tomb early in the morning while it was still dark. This is very symbolic of Mary’s emotional and spiritual state. The dawn was breaking, an image where darkness is conquered by light. Indeed, Mary who developed a special friendship with Jesus was in grief and deep sorrow because of the death of her Lord and friend. What Mary did was to confront her grief and sorrow with hope, that beyond this overwhelming suffering and death, there is life; and beyond her sinful and dark past, there is hope and mercy.
Second, as Mary searched for her Lord, she discovered an empty tomb. As she confronted her grief and sorrow, her pain and loss, her sins and failures, she discovered emptiness. This made Mary felt confused. However, it was in that emptiness that she was being filled with God. As she accepted her emptiness, Jesus filled her empty heart with the mystery of Resurrection, with love.
Third, Mary’s close relationship with Jesus helped her to find herself when she was overwhelmed with pain and confusion. This was manifested as Mary recognized the presence of the Lord in the way Jesus called her name, “Mary!” This brought her into reality and to recognize her dearest friend, Jesus at that moment. And the reality is that Jesus never left her. Indeed, Mary has a special place in the heart of God. No matter what others would think about the sinful past of Mary, God did not condemn her and left her in misery. The Lord came to rescue her and transformed her in the way God wanted her to be. This shows us too how our friendship with Jesus could transform us.
With this encounter of Mary with Jesus, this made her to proclaim, “I have seen the Lord.” It was because that Mary confronted her darkness, accepted her emptiness and the Lord’s desire to transform Mary, that she was able to see clearly the presence of God working in her life. this made her a witness, a faith-sharer and an apostle to all of us.
These are the invitations for us today on this feast of Mary Magdalene that we may live in the present moment with joy and peace.
So I would like you now to remember these three points for today.
First, in order for us not to burdened with our past, then confront the darkness in us and seek the light of forgiveness and reconciliation.
Second, never be afraid to embrace our emptiness and to acknowledge our vulnerability. The Lord comes to us when our heart has a space for him. The Lord fills us with his graces and blessings when we empty ourselves from distractions of our bad habits and selfishness.
Third, develop a deeper friendship with Jesus. We can only do this when we also develop the habit of prayer of talking our concerns to God but also listening to God’s desire for us. This involves an awareness of the presence of God in my brothers and sisters for they too are reflections of who God is.
Hopefully, in these ways then, we too in our own ways will be able to proclaim to others, that, certainly, we have seen the Lord. Hinaut pa.
Jom Baring, CSsR