Mary Magdalene’s tears hold the most beautiful place amid all the Resurrection encounters. Tears erupted from the core of who she is, made in the image and likeness of God. We are the same. Tears rise from that place of intense longing we carry every moment of our existence which burned in our soul from the moment of the fall when sin severed our union with our Love. God created us for Himself, who is Love and our longing never stops until it is quenched by Love Incarnate.
Why Are You Weeping?
Mary “stayed outside the tomb weeping”. The angels knew why she was weeping, but they savoured the beauty of such longing, and so, with tender care, they ask, “Woman, why are you weeping? They knew how Love would soon console her, that she would find her lover, Jesus, the One who would not only quench her thirst but hold her intimately forever.
Jesus, treasuring her tears as they flooded his Resurrected Body asked her, too. “Woman. why are you weeping?” How strange that Mary didn’t recognize Jesus, thinking the one asking her at the empty tomb was the gardener. But God came among us in His only begotten Son who, like us, looked like just another person, even in his resurrected body. Mary recognized him only at the sound of her name, “Mary!” She immediately clung to Jesus.
Christ consoles her in his most beautiful way that entails a necessary waiting, “Stop holding onto me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father and your Father, to my God and your God. Jesus leaving her did not mean a leaving in the same way she experienced his death, or in the same way we experience the one we love leaving for a long time, or a bride’s as she watches her beloved leave to fight in a World War, or a father watching his daughter leave home as she must according to God’s holy order. She encountered Him in a new way that carried her heart toward a horizon of eternal joy.
Pope Benedict XVI focussed on Mary’s initial transforming encounter with Christ:
The story of Mary of Magdala reminds us all of a fundamental truth: a disciple of Christ is one who, in the experience of human weakness, has had the humility to ask for his help, has been healed by him and has set out following closely after him, becoming a witness of the power of his merciful love that is stronger than sin and death. (Angelus Address, July 23, 2006)
Mary ran to still-stunned disciples slow to believe, their crushed hearts waiting and yearning for an eternal Presence of Christ who once filled their longing.
Like the dear that yearns
for running streams,
so my soul is yearning
for you, my God.
Let me seek him whom my soul loves.
I sought him but I did not find him.
The watchmen found me,
as they made their rounds in the city:
“Him whom my soul loves—have you seen him?”
Hardly had I left them when I found him whom my soul loves.
I held him and would not let him go.
Oh, how good it is in silence,
To listen to Him over and over,
To enjoy the peace of His presence,
and then to surrender wholly to His love.
O Lamb, so pure and so meek,
You my All, my only One;
How well You know that Your fiancèe
Your little one hungers greatly for You.
She hungers to feed upon her Master,
Above all to be consumed by him,
To surrender fully to Him her whole being
So she may be totally taken.
Oh, that I may be possessed by You;
One who lives by you alone,
Yours, Your living host,
Consumed by You on the Cross.
— Elizabeth of the Trinity
The Desire For God In Us
All of us are driven by the desire for God. “The desire for God is written in the human heart because man is created by God and for God, and God never ceases to draw man to himself. Only in God will he find the truth and happiness he never stops searching for. (CCC.27).
However, we tend to fight this desire or feed it solely with human love which has God’s divine touch woven into it but is not stable and secure. A friend is one we lay down our lives for, not the one who can quench our infinite need for love.
Mary reveals to all of us, first to the Apostles, who Jesus is, our Risen Saviour alive and coming to meet us. He has not left us. Mary shows us how much we need Him. She lived the words of St. John Paul II:
“Man cannot live without love. He remains a being that is incomprehensible for himself, his life is senseless, if love is not revealed to him, if he does not encounter love, if he does not experience it and make it his own, if he does not participate intimately in it. This, as has already been said, is why Christ the Redeemer “fully reveals man to himself”. The man who wishes to understand himself thoroughly… must with his unrest, uncertainty and even his weakness and sinfulness, with his life and death, draw near to Christ.” (The Redeemer Of Man #10)
We have two things acting on us with great force ensuring our longing for love is eternally fulfilled. The first is the restless and insatiable thirst for love beating continually in us; the second is more powerful and effective: God draws us to himself as He said he would when he is lifted up. (John 12:32).
In the seven Old Testament readings at the Easter Vigil, we listened, from a digital distance this year, to God’s intervening and transforming love for Israel. He never stops intervening, especially in the frenzy and oft times chaos of the third Millenium.
The Flame Of Divine Love
St Peter Chrysologus, speaking in a homily way back, reviewed those same events in which God, having seen the world fallen and in ruin, “immediately acted to call it back to himself with love.”
He told his listeners,
“the flame of Divine Love enkindled in human hearts and its intoxication overflowed into men’s senses. Wounded by love, they longed to look upon God with their bodily eyes. Yet how could our narrow human vision apprehend God, whom the whole world cannot contain?
This is what we all should live with, intoxication overflowing into our senses, having tasted Divine love even for a moment, especially at the moment of our Baptism. That is why we pray the Anima Christi, “Blood of Christ inebriate me”. Our senses have been dulled, though, by a cacophony of vehicles, planes, advertising, loudspeakers, music, and idle chatter. Meaningless computer images flow through our retina like a river, drowning the essential mental silence needed to encounter the Living God who seeks a home of stillness in us.
Peter Chrysologus goes deeper,
But the law of love is not concerned with what will be, what ought to be, what can be. Love does not reflect; it is unreasonable and knows no moderation. Love refuses to be consoled when its goal proves impossible, despises all hindrances to the attainment of its object. Love destroys the lover if he cannot obtain what he loves; love follows its own promptings and does not think of right and wrong. Love inflames desires which impel it toward things that are forbidden. But why continue?
It is intolerable for love not to see the object of its longing. That is why whatever reward they merited was nothing to the saints if they could not see the Lord. A love that desires to see God may not have reasonableness on its side, but it is evidence of filial love. (taken from the Divine Office, Second Reading of the Office of Readings in Advent.)
“Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken my Lord.” The angels and Jesus treasured every moment of her love. It was intolerable for her not to see the object of her longing.
Christ died for us with a love that is incomprehensible, crushed for us out of love that bled with an insatiable longing for us. “I thirst”.
May we all, driven into hiding and solitude by a microscopic coronavirus, embrace this moment so that the flame of Divine Love is set on fire in us.