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Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Reflection 2020-07-22 Wednesday 16th Week in Ordinary Time – St Mary Magdalene

Song of Songs 3:1-4; Psalm 63; John 20:1, 11-18
The readings today emphasize one thing: Divine love. This love is not a romantic love where we feel good and float in the air. The Song of Songs shows this as a love that seeks the Beloved, that will not settle for anything less than the Beloved himself.
The Psalm gives an idea of thirsting for God. It speaks of the soul that thirsts for God, the flesh that faints as a dry and weary land where there is no water. This thirst finds satisfaction only when the Psalmist looks on God in the sanctuary. The longing for God is satisfied only when we see him. All these are manifested in Gospel today when Mary Magdalene searches for the body of her Lord in the tomb.
This is divine love: it goes through any extent to search for the Beloved for the sake of the Beloved. This is divine love because God himself shows this by sending his Son Jesus Christ to search for those he loves, and dying for them so they can live with him for eternity. Does this mean that romantic love is sinful or useless? In his Encyclical Deus Caritas Est (God is Love), Pope Benedict XVI explains that romantic love (eros) can lead to divine love. (I am not saying that sex is the way to encounter God. This was the belief of the surrounding nations of Israel which was why they were destroyed). In romantic love, the person goes through any length to be with his beloved because he gets something out of it. He feels good, he likes how he feels when he is with her. It is a selfish love and this very often leads to using the other person as an object of pleasure, as in pornography, sodomy, fornication or adultery, which is sinful. But if this love matures where the lover pursues his beloved for her own sake, seeing her as a person, then the romantic love becomes divine love. The selfish romantic love is transformed into selfless divine love because the lover gives unselfishly to the beloved without demanding anything back.
The Beloved accepts the Bride as she is, not because he understands her, but because he loves her. Mary Magdalene showed this when she mistook Jesus for the gardener and said Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away. All she cared about what her Master’s body. It did not matter if what others did to it. What mattered was for her to see the Body of her Master. When the Risen Jesus called her name, she recognized him. Mary did not recognize Jesus when she saw him. She recognized him when he called her. In our relationship with God, we are the Bride, the one who responds to the movement of the Beloved. We cannot recognize God on our own effort. God has to call us first before we can recognize him.
When Mary Magdalene recognized Jesus, she clung to him. She has found her Beloved and she will not let go. But Jesus told her not to touch him. Why would Jesus push the one who loves him away? The only reason I can think of is Mary was still holding on to her idea of who Jesus is. Jesus has to fully reveal himself to her before she can fully touch him.
Like Mary Magdalene, we cannot know the true Jesus if we continue to hold on to our beliefs of who we think he is. We must let go of our idea of Jesus and accept him as he reveals himself to us. For Mary Magdalene, nothing mattered except to be with her Lord. She was with Jesus and that is all that matters. Love is not in understanding the other person. Love is knowing the other person. Those who are married will agree that we love our spouses even if we do not understand them. Similarly, in our relationship with God. We seek him, we thirst for him, we give our lives for him, not because we understand him, but because we love him. He is the only One that matters.
If you seek to be loved, or have never experienced love or have been disappointed by people you love, remember, there is One who loves you more than anyone else can. He searches for you and gives his life for you, not because you can satisfy him, but because he loves you. He died to prove his love for you. And if you want to know him, come to him. Call him, even if you do not recognize him. Like Mary Magdalene, tell him you are searching for him. And when he calls your name, do as Mary Magdalene did, turn to him and cling to him. Jesus loves you. He thirsts for you, he searches for you. Will you answer his call?
Lord Jesus, I have loved you for selfish reasons. I follow you because you keep me safe, because you provide for me, because you sanctify me. But now Lord, I want to love you as you are because you are my God and my Lord. Lord, I thirst for you. I faint because I long for you. I have searched you in other things and they are not you. Call me by name, so I can recognize you and when I turn to you, never let me go. St Mary Magdalene, teach me to love Jesus. Pray that I may have that intense love for Jesus so I may search for him and cling to him when I hear him call me.

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