“Jesus said ‘Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?’”
I love these words from today’s gospel. I imagine these words being said in the most gentle and comforting way. Jesus to Mary Magdalene…”Why are you weeping?”
I’ve always felt close to Mary Magdalene. Her feast day today is celebrated the day after my birthday. Note that it is no longer a Memorial on the liturgical calendar. Mary has been elevated to the status of the Apostles with her own Feast Day. How appropriate for the woman who had the privilege of being the first to see Jesus after his resurrection, though she didn’t at first recognize him. Through her tears, her overwhelming grief at not being able to properly prepare his body for burial after the Sabbath, thinking he has been moved. Through her tears she could not see that the man, whom she mistook for a gardener, was her Lord. Through her tears, it was only in the gentle and comforting words of Jesus speaking her name, “Mary!”, that she was able to see that it was him. Let’s add to our reflection the power of our spoken name in times of sorrow.
I don’t believe there is one person reading this today who has not experienced some profound loss, in some form or other. Grief and weeping come as part of the healing, but only after the anger at the loss. The tears often will hide something from our view. That something is the realization that life will continue after the grief and laughter will return. I like to think of the tears as a cleansing of the eyes to allow us to see more clearly, not only what is to come, but also that Jesus himself is there, walking with us through our sorrow.
Some years ago, I was experiencing a very emotionally trying time. As was my habit, I visited my good priest friend, Fr. Donn (now passed), for some comfort and guidance. I recall him saying to me, “ You will get through this.” I asked how. He answered that when the hurt comes, don’t hide it or try to bury it. Let the tears come – let them flow. They will give you comfort, and Jesus will show you the way out. I’ve never forgotten that advice, and it has served me well.
For Mary, her tears first blinded her to what was just before her, unrecognizable. As with us, we will often be blinded by our tears and sorrow to what is right before us. But as with Mary, those tears will dry, and joy will return. Should you not have a Fr. Donn to lean on as I did, find someone who can help. But also, don’t forget that Jesus is right there for you. Pray for him to call your name to let you know he is holding out his hand for you to take the first steps out of your grief.
And then, with May, we can joyfully exclaim to all we meet, “I have seen the Lord!”
Jeanne Penoyar, an Accounts Manager at Diocesan, is a Lector at St. Anthony of Padua parish in Grand Rapids, MI. Jeanne has worked in parish ministry as an RCIA director, in Liturgy, and as a Cantor. Working word puzzles and reading fill her spare time. Jeanne can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.