Saturday, July 18, 2015

Gospel text for the Feast of Mary Magdalene observed 19 July 2015

John 20:11-18       Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. They said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?" She said to them, "They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him." When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?" Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, "Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away." Jesus said to her, "Mary!" She turned and said to him in Hebrew, "Rabbouni!" (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, "Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, `I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'" Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, "I have seen the Lord"; and she told them that he had said these things to her.

Reflection    Instead of running away from the the horrors of the tomb as did the other eleven apostles, instead of burying her head in the sand and denying her love and her excruciating loss, instead of getting busy, going fishing and getting over her post traumatic stress, Mary Magdalene remained at the tomb, she consented to the present moment and allowed herself to experience the depths of her desire and the fullness of her grief.  And in so doing in some mysterious way that our human mentality cannot begin to comprehend, the eyes of Mary’s heart we broken open to see beyond the shadow of death and to experience the ineffable teacher she already had, within. 

When we allow ourselves to truly feel the height and width and depth of our experience, no matter what it is, we are nailed to the present moment and that is precisely where we encounter kindness, beauty and truth, the teacher within, our divine true nature.  We are not separate from God. We are not other than God. Although we are not God, we are not not God either.

When we, like Mary Magdalene, consent to the present moment and allow ourselves to stay at the tomb and experience the fullness of our feelings, regardless of what they are, there is every chance we too will be broken open, turn around, encounter the teacher within, and return to our divine true nature. During the early stages of our spiritual journeys we look for the teacher, we look for God, up there or out there as something or someone to master with our minds and grasp with our senses. This is as it should be until, we, like Mary Magdalene, we allow our hearts to be broken open, until we turn around and realize “What we are seeking we already have.” (Thich Nhat Hanh, The Art of Power )

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