Posts Tagged ‘The Risen Christ Appearing to Mary Magdalen’

Prayer and Meditation for Tuesday, March 29, 2016 — God has made him both Lord and Christ

March 28, 2016

Tuesday in the Octave of Easter
Lectionary: 262

Reading 1 ACTS 2:36-41

On the day of Pentecost, Peter said to the Jewish people,
“Let the whole house of Israel know for certain
that God has made him both Lord and Christ,
this Jesus whom you crucified.”Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart,
and they asked Peter and the other Apostles,
“What are we to do, my brothers?”
Peter said to them,
“Repent and be baptized, every one of you,
in the name of Jesus Christ, for the forgiveness of your sins;
and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
For the promise is made to you and to your children
and to all those far off,
whomever the Lord our God will call.”
He testified with many other arguments, and was exhorting them,
“Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.”
Those who accepted his message were baptized,
and about three thousand persons were added that day.

Responsorial Psalm PS 33:4-5, 18-19, 20 AND 22

R. (5b) The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Upright is the word of the LORD,
and all his works are trustworthy.
He loves justice and right;
of the kindness of the LORD the earth is full.
R. The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.
See, the eyes of the LORD are upon those who fear him,
upon those who hope for his kindness,
To deliver them from death
and preserve them in spite of famine.
R. The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Our soul waits for the LORD,
who is our help and our shield.
May your kindness, O LORD, be upon us
who have put our hope in you.
R. The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.

AlleluiaPS 118:24

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
This is the day the LORD has made;
let us be glad and rejoice in it.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel JN 20:11-18

Mary Magdalene stayed outside the tomb weeping.
And as she wept, she bent over into the tomb
and saw two angels in white sitting there,
one at the head and one at the feet
where the Body of Jesus had been.
And they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?”
She said to them, “They have taken my Lord,
and I don’t know where they laid him.”
When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus there,
but did not know it was Jesus.
Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?
Whom are you looking for?”
She thought it was the gardener and said to him,
“Sir, if you carried him away,
tell me where you laid him,
and I will take him.”
Jesus said to her, “Mary!”
She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni,”
which means Teacher.
Jesus said to her, “Stop holding on to me,
for I have not yet ascended to the Father.
But go to my brothers and tell them,
‘I am going to my Father and your Father,
to my God and your God.’”
Mary went and announced to the disciples,
“I have seen the Lord,”
and then reported what he had told her.
.
**************************************************
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Art: Christ and St. Mary Magdalene at the Tomb by Rembrandt c.1638 — “She thought it was the gardener.”
.
*******************************************
.

Commentary on John 20:11-18 from Living Space

After going off to tell Peter and the other disciples about the empty tomb, it seems that Mary of Magdala went back there to grieve over her lost friend and master. She sees two angels sitting inside the tomb and asks where her Lord has been taken. When asked why she is weeping, she replies that her Lord has been “taken away” and she does not know where he has been put.

Then, as she turns round, there is Jesus before her but she does not recognise him. This is a common experience with those who meet Jesus after the resurrection. He is the same and he is not the same. In this transitional period they have to learn to recognise Jesus in unexpected forms and places and situations. He asks the same question as the angels: “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” A question we need to ask ourselves constantly. Like Mary, we may say we are looking for Jesus – but which Jesus?
.
She thinks the person in front of her is the gardener. How often we jump to conclusions about people, about their character and personality and true identity! Maybe this man has taken Jesus away and knows where he is. It is also another lovely example of Johannine irony. First, that the one she took to be the gardener should know where Jesus was to be found. Second, it is John who tells us that the tomb of Jesus was in a garden (19:41). All the world’s pain and sorrow began with the sin of the Man and the Woman in a garden (Eden) and now new life also finds its beginnings in a garden. Mary was unwittingly right – Jesus is a Gardener, the one who produces life from the earth, and is the Word of his Father, the Gardener of Eden.
.
Then Jesus speaks: “Mary!” Immediately she recognises his voice, the voice of her Master. It reminds us of the passage about Jesus the Shepherd. “The sheep hear his voice, as he calls his own sheep by name… the sheep follow him because they recognise his voice… I know my sheep and they know me” (John 10:3-4,15).
Immediately she turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni”. This is a more formal address than just “Rabbi” and was often used when speaking to God. In which case, Mary’s exclamation is not unlike that of Thomas in the upper room – “My Lord and my God!” We should also note that earlier she had already turned to face Jesus so this turning is different. It is an interior turning from strangeness to recognition, from sadness to joy, from a sense of loss to a close bonding, from doubt to faith.
.
With a mixture of joy and affection and partly out of fear of losing him again, she clings on to him tightly. But Jesus tells her to let him go, because “I have not ascended to the Father.” A sentence which may be better read as a rhetorical question: “Have I not ascended to my Father?” In John, the glorification of Jesus takes place on the cross at the moment of death.
.
At that moment of triumph, Jesus is raised straight to the glory of the Father. In that sense, it is the glorified Jesus who now speaks with Mary not the Jesus she knew earlier. This Jesus cannot be clung to. In fact, there is no need. From now on “I am with you always.”
.
The phrase “I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God” echoes a sentence in the Book of Ruth (1:16): “Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.” The Father of Jesus now becomes the Father of his disciples as they are filled with the Spirit that is both in the Father and the Son. Thus they will be re-born (John 3:5) as God’s children and can be called “brothers” by Jesus.
.
Mary – and all the others – have to learn that the Risen Jesus is different from the Jesus before the crucifixion. They have to let go of the earlier Jesus and learn to relate to the “new” Jesus in a very different way.
.
So she is told to do what every Christian is supposed to do: go and tell the other disciples that she has seen the Lord and she shares with them what he has said to her. “I have seen the Lord.” She is not just passing on a doctrine but sharing an experience. That is what we are all called to do.
It is significant that it is a woman who is the first person in John’s gospel to see and to be spoken to by the Risen Jesus. Not only that, if she is the same person mentioned by Luke as one of Jesus’ women followers (Luke 8:2), she was formerly a deeply sinful woman from whom seven demons had been driven out. Often no one is closer to God than someone who has been converted from a sinful past. We think of people like St Augustine or St Ignatius Loyola. We remember the example of the sinful woman in the house of Simon the Pharisee (Luke 7:35-50). Of her Jesus said: “Seeing that she loved much, her many sins are forgiven. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little” (Luke 7:47).

So Mary, who (who with Mary, Jesus’ Mother, stood by the cross of Jesus to the very end – unlike the men disciples), is now rewarded by being the first to meet him risen and glorified. She is truly a beloved disciple.

http://livingspace.sacredspace.ie/e1013g/

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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore 
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29 MARCH 2016, Tuesday Within Easter Octave
COMING OUT OF OUR TOMB

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ ACTS 2:36-41; JN 20:11-18 ]

Today is the second day of the Octave of Easter.   Are you resurrected yet?  Or are you still in the tomb?  If so, why is it that you are still hiding in the tomb when we are told that the Lord has removed the stone blocking you from coming out of the tomb?  Moreover, the morning star has set and the light of Christ is shining so brightly outside the tomb!

If we are still in the tomb, it could be because we are like Mary, who was not able to let go of the past.  She could not let go of the beautiful memories she had of Jesus who saved her from sin and from living a meaningless life.   She was still thinking of the Jesus of Nazareth whom she loved with all her heart.  She was clinging to the things of this world, to what is earthly.  At the same time, she could not forget the horrible sight and memories of Jesus who was scourged, mocked, ridiculed and crucified on the cross.  She must have been so heartbroken, not just at the death of Jesus but the tragic way He died; an ignominious and innocent death.

It is the same for us too.  We are like Mary who continued to cling to our past, the good old days when our children were with us at our side but now no more as they are now living their independent lives. Some of us are in bereavement over the loss of our loved ones; some are widowed and some of us are sickly.  Again, when we think of the good old days, we cannot but regret that the good times have passed, and now we are living lives of loneliness and pain.  Indeed, it is the tendency of those of us are who suffering to bemoan the nostalgic times and wish that we could relive them.

When we are not ready to move on to a new situation, we become misfits in society and in life.  Sadly, those who have suffered failures in relationship, who have been jilted or betrayed in marriage and friendship, are not willing to move on and would rather give up on relationships all together.  The failure to adapt and change is the cause of our misery.  When we continue to look to the good old days, reinforcing our pains and misery and wallowing in them, we cannot see the Risen Lord or even the angels that the Lord sends to us.  This was certainly what happened to Mary Magdalene.  We read that “still weeping, she stooped to look inside, and saw two angels in white sitting where the body of Jesus had been, one at the head, the other at the feet. They said, ‘Woman, why are you weeping?’ ‘They have taken my Lord away,’ she replied, ‘and I don’t know where they have put him.’”  She did not even see the angels or know that they were angels from God who had been sent to help her and console her with the Good News.   We, too, when we are absorbed in our pains and hurts, we cannot see the light in front of us and the angels God sends to us through our friends, colleagues, loved ones, the priests and especially the Word of God and the Eucharist.

For others, it is their sins that prevent them from seeing the new life.  They have not completely given up their sins.  St Paul reminds us of the need to get rid of the old yeast of sin so that we can be fresh dough.  (cf 1 Cor 5:7-8)  If we are not ready to give up our sins, such as anger, revenge, lust, envy, sloth, greed and gluttony, we cannot find life.  Without giving up the sins that we cling to, we remain slaves to all that is negative and destructive of our happiness and freedom.  No one who is under the bondage of the Evil One is free to be happy.  No one can sin and be truly happy because deep in his heart, he knows that he is not just cheating others but himself.  He would have no confidence to stand before God with a clear conscience.  (cf1 Jn 3:21)  So we must resolve to throw out all that remains of our pride and selfishness so that we can renew ourselves in the power of the Risen Lord.

St Peter made it clear to the Jews that they must repent and be baptized if they want to enter the Promised Land.  Peter answered, “You must repent and every one of you must be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise that was made is for you and your children, and for all those who are far away, for all those whom the Lord our God will call to himself.”  We must make a decision to turn away from our sins and what that binds us to the past.  That was what happened to Mary as well.  When her eyes were turned away from Jesus, she could not recognize Him, thinking that He was the gardener.  She said, “Sir, if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and remove him.”  To be baptized means that we enter into the tomb of Jesus and rise up again, washed clean of our sins and our past; and put on the new garment, the new creation that we are called to be.  (cf Eph 2:10)

But we might say to ourselves, “we have no strength” to do it.  We want to come out of our tomb but we find ourselves powerless.  We want to forgive but we cannot.  We want to make ourselves useful but we are lazy and selfish.  We want to be generous but we are afraid to letting go of our wealth and possessions.  We want to serve but we are not willing to share our time and leisure with others.  We want to live a simpler life but the enticement of money, glory and power overwhelms us.  So we are trapped by our sins and the lack of the capacity to break free from our clutches, like the crippled man at the Beautiful Gate of the Temple.

That is why we must turn to Jesus. He has already removed that stone.  But now we need to get out of that tomb.  This also needs His help because we are still too crippled to come out by ourselves.  We can now see the light outside the cave shining into our tombs, but we are not able to climb out.  This was what Mary did when the Lord drew her towards Him.  “Jesus said, ‘Mary!’ She knew him then and said to him in Hebrew, ‘Rabbuni!’ – which means Master.”   We need to hear the Lord speaking to us intimately and personally if we are to break free from our chains.  St Paul said it for himself when he wrote, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Gal 2:20)

Only when we can come to the conviction that Christ loves us, we cannot be set free from our past and bondages.  That was what Jesus said to Mary after calling her name.  He said, “Do not cling to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go and find the brothers, and tell them: I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.”   We cannot let go of our straws unless we have found the cross of life.  We cannot let go of worldly enjoyments unless we have tasted the joy of love, the peace of a clear conscience, the freedom of surrendering our lives to God as we give ourselves in love and service, not thinking about ourselves and our security but that of others.

So if we want the Lord to enter into our lives and lead us out of the tomb which is now opened, we need to be like Mary Magdalene, pondering the love of Jesus for us.  Only when we contemplate what the Lord has done for us, how much He has suffered innocently and died for our sins, will our hearts then be converted like that of the Jews.  It was only when they heard Peter’s discourse of how they killed and crucified the Lord and Messiah that “they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the apostles, ‘What must we do, brothers?’”  So we must open our hearts, our ears and our eyes in prayer and intimacy with the Lord.  When we realize how our sins continue to crucify the Lord even today and how we are hurting Him, because we are hurting ourselves and those whom He loves equally, then our hearts too will be cut to the quick and repent.  If we turn to the Lord and seek forgiveness, then St Peter says that we will receive the Holy Spirit who will then give us the resurrected life of Christ. With the Holy Spirit in us, the Father and the Son living in us, we are in Him as He is in us.

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Written by The Most Rev William Goh Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore
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Prayer and Meditation for Tuesday, April 7, 2015 — Jesus Says “I am with you always.”

April 6, 2015

Tuesday in the Octave of Easter
Lectionary: 262

Two disciples — Peter and John — at the tomb, Henry Ossawa Tanner

Reading 1 Acts 2:36-41

On the day of Pentecost, Peter said to the Jewish people,
“Let the whole house of Israel know for certain
that God has made him both Lord and Christ,
this Jesus whom you crucified.”Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart,
and they asked Peter and the other Apostles,
“What are we to do, my brothers?”
Peter said to them,
“Repent and be baptized, every one of you,
in the name of Jesus Christ, for the forgiveness of your sins;
and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
For the promise is made to you and to your children
and to all those far off,
whomever the Lord our God will call.”
He testified with many other arguments, and was exhorting them,
“Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.”
Those who accepted his message were baptized,
and about three thousand persons were added that day.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 33:4-5, 18-19, 20 and 22

R. (5b) The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Upright is the word of the LORD,
and all his works are trustworthy.
He loves justice and right;
of the kindness of the LORD the earth is full.
R. The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.
See, the eyes of the LORD are upon those who fear him,
upon those who hope for his kindness,
To deliver them from death
and preserve them in spite of famine.
R. The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Our soul waits for the LORD,
who is our help and our shield.
May your kindness, O LORD, be upon us
who have put our hope in you.
R. The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Alleluia Ps 118:24

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
This is the day the LORD has made;
let us be glad and rejoice in it.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Art: Jesus Appearing to the Magdalene by Fra Angelico

Gospel Jn 20:11-18

Mary Magdalene stayed outside the tomb weeping.
And as she wept, she bent over into the tomb
and saw two angels in white sitting there,
one at the head and one at the feet
where the Body of Jesus had been.
And they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?”
She said to them, “They have taken my Lord,
and I don’t know where they laid him.”
When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus there,
but did not know it was Jesus.
Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?
Whom are you looking for?”
She thought it was the gardener and said to him,
“Sir, if you carried him away,
tell me where you laid him,
and I will take him.”
Jesus said to her, “Mary!”
She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni,”
which means Teacher.
Jesus said to her, “Stop holding on to me,
for I have not yet ascended to the Father.
But go to my brothers and tell them,
‘I am going to my Father and your Father,
to my God and your God.’”
Mary went and announced to the disciples,
“I have seen the Lord,”
and then reported what he had told her.
.
***************************
.
Art: Christ and St. Mary Magdalene at the Tomb by Rembrandt c.1638 (She thought Jesus was the gardener)
.

Commentary on John 20:11-18 from Living Space

After going off to tell Peter and the other disciples about the empty tomb, it seems that Mary of Magdala went back there to grieve over her lost friend and master. She sees two angels sitting inside the tomb and asks where her Lord has been taken. When asked why she is weeping, she replies that her Lord has been “taken away” and she does not know where he has been put.

Then, as she turns round, there is Jesus before her but she does not recognise him. This is a common experience with those who meet Jesus after the resurrection. He is the same and he is not the same. In this transitional period they have to learn to recognise Jesus in unexpected forms and places and situations. He asks the same question as the angels: “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” A question we need to ask ourselves constantly. Like Mary, we may say we are looking for Jesus – but which Jesus?
.
She thinks the person in front of her is the gardener. How often we jump to conclusions about people, about their character and personality and true identity! Maybe this man has taken Jesus away and knows where he is. It is also another lovely example of Johannine irony. First, that the one she took to be the gardener should know where Jesus was to be found. Second, it is John who tells us that the tomb of Jesus was in a garden (19:41). All the world’s pain and sorrow began with the sin of the Man and the Woman in a garden (Eden) and now new life also finds its beginnings in a garden. Mary was unwittingly right – Jesus is a Gardener, the one who produces life from the earth, and is the Word of his Father, the Gardener of Eden.
.
Then Jesus speaks: “Mary!” Immediately she recognises his voice, the voice of her Master. It reminds us of the passage about Jesus the Shepherd. “The sheep hear his voice, as he calls his own sheep by name… the sheep follow him because they recognise his voice… I know my sheep and they know me” (John 10:3-4,15).
Immediately she turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni”. This is a more formal address than just “Rabbi” and was often used when speaking to God. In which case, Mary’s exclamation is not unlike that of Thomas in the upper room – “My Lord and my God!” We should also note that earlier she had already turned to face Jesus so this turning is different. It is an interior turning from strangeness to recognition, from sadness to joy, from a sense of loss to a close bonding, from doubt to faith.
.
With a mixture of joy and affection and partly out of fear of losing him again, she clings on to him tightly. But Jesus tells her to let him go, because “I have not ascended to the Father.” A sentence which may be better read as a rhetorical question: “Have I not ascended to my Father?” In John, the glorification of Jesus takes place on the cross at the moment of death.
.
At that moment of triumph, Jesus is raised straight to the glory of the Father. In that sense, it is the glorified Jesus who now speaks with Mary not the Jesus she knew earlier. This Jesus cannot be clung to. In fact, there is no need. From now on “I am with you always.”
.
The phrase “I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God” echoes a sentence in the Book of Ruth (1:16): “Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.” The Father of Jesus now becomes the Father of his disciples as they are filled with the Spirit that is both in the Father and the Son. Thus they will be re-born (John 3:5) as God’s children and can be called “brothers” by Jesus.
.
Mary – and all the others – have to learn that the Risen Jesus is different from the Jesus before the crucifixion. They have to let go of the earlier Jesus and learn to relate to the “new” Jesus in a very different way.
.
So she is told to do what every Christian is supposed to do: go and tell the other disciples that she has seen the Lord and she shares with them what he has said to her. “I have seen the Lord.” She is not just passing on a doctrine but sharing an experience. That is what we are all called to do.
It is significant that it is a woman who is the first person in John’s gospel to see and to be spoken to by the Risen Jesus. Not only that, if she is the same person mentioned by Luke as one of Jesus’ women followers (Luke 8:2), she was formerly a deeply sinful woman from whom seven demons had been driven out. Often no one is closer to God than someone who has been converted from a sinful past. We think of people like St Augustine or St Ignatius Loyola. We remember the example of the sinful woman in the house of Simon the Pharisee (Luke 7:35-50). Of her Jesus said: “Seeing that she loved much, her many sins are forgiven. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little” (Luke 7:47).

So Mary, who (who with Mary, Jesus’ Mother, stood by the cross of Jesus to the very end – unlike the men disciples), is now rewarded by being the first to meet him risen and glorified. She is truly a beloved disciple.

http://livingspace.sacredspace.ie/e1013g/

.

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Art: Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene by Fontana Lavinia

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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
.

ENCOUNTERING THE RISEN LORD ON HIS OWN TERMS

07 April 2015, Tuesday within the Octave of Easter

SCRIPTURE READINGS:  ACTS 2:36-41; JN 20:11-18

Many people are seeking to encounter the Risen Lord but never encountered Him.  What could be the reasons for failing to encounter the Lord?  The truth is that we all want to encounter Him on our own terms rather than in the way the Lord wants us to encounter Him.  We are basically self-willed and self-centered.  That is what many of us do in relationships. We profess that we love them when in truth we love ourselves more.  We want to love them but only on our own terms rather on the terms of our beloved.  So what is frustrating is that many of us are imposing our friendship on others and making demands on our relationships or loving them the way we like to love, so much so that those whom we “supposedly” love feel pressurized, stifled or even made use of, since they are being loved, not for their sake but for our sake.   If we truly love someone, then it is important that we love the person in the way that the person wants to be loved, for only then can he or she feel our love, since we are putting their interests before ours.  This is the true meaning of love.  In the same way too, in our encounter with the Risen Christ, we must be ready to meet Him on His terms and not ours.  What then are His terms?  Repent and receive the forgiveness of sins!  This was what Peter said when the Jews asked Him, “What must we do?”  He replied, “You must repent and every one of you must be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”  Before we can see the Risen Lord, we must seek repentance of heart.  So long as we remain in our sins and refuse to acknowledge and confess them with a contrite heart, we will not be able to see Jesus. The crowd, we are told at Pentecost, “were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the apostles, ‘What must we do, brothers?’”  Are we cut to the quick upon hearing a homily or reading the Word that convicts us of our sins?  If not, there will be no change in our lives.  The truth is that for many of us, even if we know our sins, we are not cut to the heart and therefore we have neither real contrition nor repentance of our sins.

What could be some of these sins?  Firstly, we could be wallowing in self-pity like Mary Magdalene.  She was crying and weeping apparently for Jesus, but in reality, it was for herself.  In her sadness and grief, she could not recognize the Lord.  We too could be allowing our self-preoccupation to hinder us from recognizing the Lord who comes to us in so many ways each day, through nature, events and persons.  More often than not, we allow our hurts, un-forgiveness, pride, envy and our loneliness to lead us into self-pity.  Today, the Lord is asking us to reach out instead, to look out and to look up if we want to find Him.  Indeed, we are told Mary did that.  Initially, she was looking down and then it was the second time when she looked up that she could recognize Jesus when He called her by name.  Yes, we must stop thinking about ourselves and start loving God and others, for it is in reaching out to them that we allow God to find us through them.

Secondly, if we cannot encounter the Risen Lord, it is because we are clinging to our own vision and idea of how the Lord should be meeting us.  We heard how others have experienced the Lord and we think that we, too, will experience Him in the same manner. This is tantamount to clinging to the earthly Jesus that Mary Magdalene knew and loved.  But Jesus comes on His own terms, in a new way and in a way beyond our imagination.  That is why Jesus wanted her to move to another level of faith and relationship with Him, in spirit.  He told Mary, “Do not cling to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go and find the brothers, and tell them: I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.”  Similarly, Peter told the people,The whole House of Israel can be certain that God has made this Jesus whom you crucified both Lord and Christ. … The promise that was made is for you and your children and for all those who are far away, for all those whom the Lord our God will call to himself.”  The resurrection of Jesus too was an amazing event, for how could a carpenter and a condemned criminal of Nazareth be raised from the dead!  So are we ready to be open to the impossible, or do we restrict the power and the wisdom of God from act in the way He has chosen for us?

Thirdly, it could be because we have no real love for Jesus.  Mary truly loves the Lord.  Her love for the Lord was not an intellectual love.  She loved Him deeply from her heart.  This love is shown in her desire to see Him.  This love is manifested in her devotion to Jesus, going to the tomb to anoint His body, crying when she discovered His body was missing.   How much do we long for Jesus?  I think we long to see our loved ones much more than we long to see Jesus or be with Him.  We pay lip service of love to Jesus but we hardly spend time with Him and we hardly miss His presence in our daily life. We come to Him only when we need Him, not because we love Him but because we want Him to do something for us.  If we truly want to seek Him, we must long for His presence and desire Him.  When we love Him sufficiently, we will be able to recognize His presence when He comes.  Indeed, for those whom we love, we can instinctively recognize their presence. 

But it is not sufficient to give up sins; we must receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  The truth is that we cannot find Him unless He first finds us.  We must initially desire Him by our repentance.  Once we give up our sins, He will see our sincerity and desire and seek us out, just as He sought Mary in the garden.  Mary was able to recognize Him only because the Lord took the initiative of calling her.  We too can find Him, but only when we see Him with our whole heart.

To encounter the Lord, we must be called by name.  Indeed, in all the conversion experience stories in the bible, one common thread is that all of them were called by name.  Abraham, Jacob, Moses, the prophets and of course the apostles, were called by the Lord by name.  To be called by name implies a certain intimacy.  All of us get excited or pay attention when someone addresses us by name.  Without a name, we are nobody.  When someone does not know us by name, we are impersonal to him/her.  That is why a personal relationship begins with calling the other person by name.   To call a person by name in the bible means that we know the person and the person knows us.  To encounter the Risen Lord, have you heard Him calling you by name, as He called Magdalene who immediately could then recognize her master?

But how can we hear the Lord calling us by name unless we are available to Him?  We must listen to Him calling us.  And how can this happen unless we listen to Him?  He comes to us through the Word of God, through the teachers of the Church, through our superiors and through our brothers and sisters.  The question is, do we listen to Him and allow Him to speak to us?  Unless we are ready to be like Mary Magdalene who pondered and prayed at the tomb of Jesus, we can never listen to His voice calling us by name.  How could any good Catholic live his  Christian life without withdrawing from the world for a few days in a retreat to spend time listening to the voice of the Lord speaking to him and affirming him of His personal love for him?

To encounter the Lord deeply, there is one more thing we must do.  We must not possess Him selfishly for ourselves.  We are called to share what we have received, namely, the joy of being with Him.   Obedience in faith is what is required of us if we want our relationship with Jesus to grow and deepen.   Again, that was what Mary did.  She was instructed to go and tell the brothers about what she saw.  Even though she was ridiculed, yet by sharing the marvelous event of the resurrection, her faith grew because the disciples’ faith eventually grew as well.  This is true also in friendships.  Only when we are ready to share our friends with others, can we find real happiness.  So let us continue during this Easter Octave to remain with Jesus the Risen Lord in prayer so that having encountered Him and heard Him calling us by name, we too can also proclaim to others convincingly and joyfully that we have seen the Lord.

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.Lectio Divina from the Carmelites.Reflection.

• Today’s Gospel describes the apparition of Jesus to Mary Magdalene. The death if her great friend urges Mary to lose the sense of life. But she does not give up her search. She goes to the tomb in order to meet again the one whom death has taken away. There are moments in our life in which everything crumbles. It seems that everything is finished. Death, disasters, pain and suffering, disillusions, betrayals! So many things which may cause us to feel in the air, without standing on firm ground and which can lead us to fall into a deep crisis. But other things also happen. For example, that suddenly we meet a friend again and that can give us hope anew and can make us discover that love is stronger than death and defeat.
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• Chapter 20 in John’s Gospel, besides the apparitions of Jesus to Magdalene, it also speaks about diverse episodes which reveal the richness, indicate the richness of the experience of the Resurrection: (a) to the beloved disciple and to Peter (Jn 20, 1-10); (b) to Mary Magdalene (Jn 20, 11-18); (c) to the community of disciples (Jn 20, 19-23) and (d) to the Apostle Thomas (Jn 20, 24-29). The purpose of the writing of the Gospel is that of leading persons to believe in Jesus, and believing in him, to have life (Jn 20, 30-3).
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• In the way of describing the apparition of Jesus to Mary Magdalene one perceives, one is aware of the different stages of the road that she had to follow, of the sorrowful search up to the time of the encounter at Easter. These are also the stages through which we all have to pass, throughout our life, seeking God and living the Gospel.
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• John 20, 11-13: Mary Magdalene weeps, but she seeks. There was a very strong love between Jesus and Mary Magdalene. She was one of the few persons who had the courage to remain with Jesus up to the moment of his death on the Cross. After the obligatory rest on Saturday, she goes back to the tomb to be in the place where she had met her Beloved for the last time. But, surprisingly, the tomb is empty! The angels ask her: “Woman, why are you weeping?” and her response is: “They have taken away my Lord and I do not know where they have put him!” Mary Magdalene looked for Jesus, that Jesus whom she had known during three years.
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• John 20, 14-15: Mary Magdalene speaks with Jesus without knowing him. The Disciples of Emmaus saw Jesus but they did not recognize him. She thinks that he is the gardener. And just as the angels had done, Jesus also asks: “Why are you weeping?” and he adds: “Who are you looking for?” The response: “If you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him and I will go and get him”. She was still looking for the Jesus of the past, the same one of three days before. And it is precisely the image of the Jesus of the past which prevents her to recognize the living Jesus, who is present before her.
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• John 20, 16: Mary Magdalene recognizes Jesus. Jesus pronounces the name: “Mary!” This was the sign to recognize him: the same voice, the same way of pronouncing the name. She answers: “Master!” Jesus had returned the same, as the one who had died on the cross. The first impression was that death was only a painful incident on the journey, but now everything has again become as before. Mary embraces Jesus strongly. He was the same Jesus whom she had known and loved. And thus, is fulfilled what the Parable of the Good Shepherd said: “He calls them by name and they recognize his voice”. “I know my sheep and my sheep know me” (Jn 10, 3.4.14).
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• John 20, 17-18: Mary Magdalene receives the mission to announce the resurrection to the Apostles. In fact, it is the same Jesus, but the way of being together with her is not the same as before. Jesus tells her: “Do not cling to me, because I have not as yet ascended to the Father!” He goes toward the Father. Mary Magdalene has to let Jesus go and assume her mission: to announce to the brothers that he, Jesus, has ascended to the Father. Jesus has opened up the way for us and thus, once more, God is close to us.
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Personal questions
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• Have you ever had an experience which has given you the impression of loss and of death? How was it? What is it that gave you new life and gave you the hope and the joy of living?
• Which is the change that took place in Mary Magdalene throughout the dialogue? Mary Magdalene was looking for Jesus in a certain way and found him in a different way. How does this take place in our life?
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Concluding Prayer
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We are waiting for Yahweh;
he is our help and our shield,
for in him our heart rejoices,
in his holy name we trust.
Yahweh, let your faithful love rest on us,
as our hope has rested in you. (Ps 33,20-22)
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Prayer and Meditation for Tuesday, April 22, 2014 — Faith Enough To Seek God’s Will Without Seeing His Face

April 21, 2014

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Jesus Appearing to the Magdalene by Fra Angelico.

Tuesday in the Octave of Easter
Lectionary: 262

Reading 1 acts 2:36-41

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On the day of Pentecost, Peter said to the Jewish people,
“Let the whole house of Israel know for certain
that God has made him both Lord and Christ,
this Jesus whom you crucified.”
.Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart,
and they asked Peter and the other Apostles,
“What are we to do, my brothers?”
Peter said to them,
“Repent and be baptized, every one of you,
in the name of Jesus Christ, for the forgiveness of your sins;
and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
For the promise is made to you and to your children
and to all those far off,
whomever the Lord our God will call.”
He testified with many other arguments, and was exhorting them,
“Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.”
Those who accepted his message were baptized,
and about three thousand persons were added that day.
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Responsorial Psalm ps 33:4-5, 18-19, 20 and 22

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R. (5b) The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Upright is the word of the LORD,
and all his works are trustworthy.
He loves justice and right;
of the kindness of the LORD the earth is full.
R. The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.
See, the eyes of the LORD are upon those who fear him,
upon those who hope for his kindness,
To deliver them from death
and preserve them in spite of famine.
R. The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Our soul waits for the LORD,
who is our help and our shield.
May your kindness, O LORD, be upon us
who have put our hope in you.
R. The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.
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Gospel jn 20:11-18

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Mary Magdalene stayed outside the tomb weeping.
And as she wept, she bent over into the tomb
and saw two angels in white sitting there,
one at the head and one at the feet
where the Body of Jesus had been.
And they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?”
She said to them, “They have taken my Lord,
and I don’t know where they laid him.”
When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus there,
but did not know it was Jesus.
Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?
Whom are you looking for?”
She thought it was the gardener and said to him,
“Sir, if you carried him away,
tell me where you laid him,
and I will take him.”
Jesus said to her, “Mary!”
She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni,”
which means Teacher.
Jesus said to her, “Stop holding on to me,
for I have not yet ascended to the Father.
But go to my brothers and tell them,
‘I am going to my Father and your Father,
to my God and your God.’”
Mary went and announced to the disciples,
“I have seen the Lord,”
and then reported what he had told her.
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Art: Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene Fontana Lavinia. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” She thought it was the gardener …. From the Gospel of John
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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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We can fully empathize with the disciples at Emmaus.  They were so discouraged, especially when they had such great hopes for Jesus the Messiah. And as they recounted, Jesus proved to be such a “great prophet by the things he said and did in the sight of God and of the whole people.”  But His tragic and cruel death on the cross dashed all their hopes.  As they said, “Our own hope had been that he would be the one to set Israel free.”

Just like the disciples at Emmaus, we are often very disappointed with many events in our lives.  It could be a death, a tragedy, a betrayal, an act of grave injustice done tot us, a failure or an illness.  In such situations, we cannot but feel hopeless.  At times, we feel so crippled by such experiences because of the physical, emotional and psychological pain, so much so we want to simply give up.  At times, we are just resigned to the situation.   This was the case of the man who was crippled from birth.  Day after day, year after year, he had no great hope other than that someone would carry him to the Temple gate so that he could beg for his livelihood.

When we are in such doldrums, we cannot expect to look out or look up.  Like the disciples at Emmaus, we walk with faces downcast.  Like the crippled man at the Beautiful Gate, we dare not look up to the world.  The truth is that when we are grappling with our pain, we cannot but be absorbed by our own pain.  We cannot see the light beyond our pain.  So the tendency is to withdraw and run away from our sorrows, like the disciples who were leaving Jerusalem for Emmaus.  Like the crippled man who could only hope that he would have enough to eat every day, we too only entertain small hopes.  Like the crippled man and the disciples, we do not believe that God can work wonders and change the situations we are in.

How, then, can we begin to look up and out again?  Where can we find such courage and strength?   We need to walk with the Risen Lord!  Unless the Risen Lord walks with us, we will not have the courage or strength to walk through the valley of tears.  This is what St Peter told the crippled man, “‘Look at us”. And we read that the crippled man “turned to them expectantly, hoping to get something from them, but Peter said, ‘I have neither silver nor gold, but I will give you what I have: in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, walk!’”  So we must turn to Jesus the Risen Lord if we were to walk tall and straight again.

But where is the Risen Lord to be found?  It is significant that the gospel says that when the disciples, “drew near to the village to which they were going, he made as if to go on; but they pressed him to stay with them. ‘It is nearly evening’ they said ‘and the day is almost over.’”  Evening again reminds us of darkness and evil.  So when we reach the dark moments in our lives, what must we do? We must welcome Jesus to stay with us.  How?  Through the breaking of bread, for we are told that while Jesus was with them at table, “he took the bread and said the blessing; then he broke it and handed it to them. And their eyes were opened and they recognized him; but he had vanished from their sight.” Hence, it is evident that the Risen Lord is found in the breaking of bread which takes two forms, namely, the Word of God and the Eucharist. 

Firstly, it is in the Word of God that the Risen Lord will speak to us. It is in the scriptures that we will see the face of the Risen Lord.  In the scriptures, God will speak to us and make clear the confusion in our lives.  In the scriptures, God will help us to understand the place of our sufferings, which is to be seen in the perspective of God’s plan.  No suffering is suffered in vain.  When we give ourselves to the Lord in obedience to His holy will, He will manifest His glorious power over our limitations.  He has done this for Jesus and He will do it for us again!  That is why we must turn to the scriptures so that Jesus can speak to us and offer us words of encouragement, wisdom and hope.

But most of all, the Risen Lord is to be found in a very special, real and sacramental manner in the Eucharist.  The celebration of the Eucharist of course is a memorial of His passion, death and resurrection.  Already at the Last Supper, Jesus anticipated His death and resurrection and His continued presence with us whenever we “do this in memory” of Him.  So in the Eucharist, Jesus comes to us in a very real way, for in remembering His passion and love for us, we also remember how sin and death were conquered by His resurrection from the dead.  The Eucharist therefore is a source of strength for us in our passion and a source of hope for us in living from the future.

Isn’t this the experience of those who read the Word of God prayerfully, slowly and meditatively?  Isn’t this the experience of those who celebrate the Eucharist daily with devotion and fervor?  In giving ourselves to the Word and in the Eucharist, our experience is no less than that of the disciples of Emmaus when “they said to each other, ‘Did not our hearts burn within us as he talked to us on the road and explained the scriptures to us?’”  We know that Jesus is truly risen indeed when we experience the love, warmth and presence of Jesus in our hearts.  Yes, only in the Word and in the Eucharist, can we see Jesus, for the disciples too had their eyes opened and saw Jesus at the breaking of the bread.

When our hearts are warmed with the love of God, we too become joyful and liberated people.  So like them, instead of withdrawing from Jerusalem, we will return to wherever we are to announce the Good News that Jesus is truly risen indeed.  Yes, the evangelist writes, “They set out that instant and returned to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven assembled together with their companions, who said to them, ‘Yes, it is true. The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.’”

Yes, if the going is tough and if we find ourselves helpless, then we must turn to Jesus and look to Him for our salvation and liberation. Just as He strengthened the crippled man’s feet, He will put us upright as well.  Jesus never fails.  The resurrection of Jesus from the dead means that God will triumph,regardless of the apparent failures in our lives and the scandals of history.  Let us give our lives to Jesus, including all our disappointments and failures, so that He can turn them around and give us hope and courage to live from the certainty of triumph.

– See more at: http://www.csctr.net/22-april-2014-tuesday-within-the-octave-of-easter/#sthash.viHNK6FG.dpuf

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http://www.csctr.net/

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Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn: The Risen Christ Appearing to Mary Magdalen
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She thought it was the gardener …. The Risen Christ Appearing to Mary Magdalen by Rembrandt
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Lectio Divina from the Carmelites

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Reflection

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• Today’s Gospel describes the apparition of Jesus to Mary Magdalene. The death if her great friend urges Mary to lose the sense of life. But she does not give up her search. She goes to the tomb in order to meet again the one whom death has taken away. There are moments in our life in which everything crumbles. It seems that everything is finished. Death, disasters, pain and suffering, disillusions, betrayals! So many things which may cause us to feel in the air, without standing on firm ground and which can lead us to fall into a deep crisis. But other things also happen. For example, that suddenly we meet a friend again and that can give us hope anew and can make us discover that love is stronger than death and defeat.
.
• Chapter 20 in John’s Gospel, besides the apparitions of Jesus to Magdalene, it also speaks about diverse episodes which reveal the richness, indicate the richness of the experience of the Resurrection: (a) to the beloved disciple and to Peter (Jn 20, 1-10); (b) to Mary Magdalene (Jn 20, 11-18); (c) to the community of disciples (Jn 20, 19-23) and (d) to the Apostle Thomas (Jn 20, 24-29). The purpose of the writing of the Gospel is that of leading persons to believe in Jesus, and believing in him, to have life (Jn 20, 30-3).
.
• In the way of describing the apparition of Jesus to Mary Magdalene one perceives, one is aware of the different stages of the road that she had to follow, of the sorrowful search up to the time of the encounter at Easter. These are also the stages through which we all have to pass, throughout our life, seeking God and living the Gospel.
.
• John 20, 11-13: Mary Magdalene weeps, but she seeks. There was a very strong love between Jesus and Mary Magdalene. She was one of the few persons who had the courage to remain with Jesus up to the moment of his death on the Cross. After the obligatory rest on Saturday, she goes back to the tomb to be in the place where she had met her Beloved for the last time. But, surprisingly, the tomb is empty! The angels ask her: “Woman, why are you weeping?” and her response is: “They have taken away my Lord and I do not know where they have put him!” Mary Magdalene looked for Jesus, that Jesus whom she had known during three years.
.
• John 20, 14-15: Mary Magdalene speaks with Jesus without knowing him. The Disciples of Emmaus saw Jesus but they did not recognize him. She thinks that he is the gardener. And just as the angels had done, Jesus also asks: “Why are you weeping?” and he adds: “Who are you looking for?” The response: “If you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him and I will go and get him”. She was still looking for the Jesus of the past, the same one of three days before. And it is precisely the image of the Jesus of the past which prevents her to recognize the living Jesus, who is present before her.
.
• John 20, 16: Mary Magdalene recognizes Jesus. Jesus pronounces the name: “Mary!” This was the sign to recognize him: the same voice, the same way of pronouncing the name. She answers: “Master!” Jesus had returned the same, as the one who had died on the cross. The first impression was that death was only a painful incident on the journey, but now everything has again become as before. Mary embraces Jesus strongly. He was the same Jesus whom she had known and loved. And thus, is fulfilled what the Parable of the Good Shepherd said: “He calls them by name and they recognize his voice”. “I know my sheep and my sheep know me” (Jn 10, 3.4.14).
.
• John 20, 17-18: Mary Magdalene receives the mission to announce the resurrection to the Apostles. In fact, it is the same Jesus, but the way of being together with her is not the same as before. Jesus tells her: “Do not cling to me, because I have not as yet ascended to the Father!” He goes toward the Father. Mary Magdalene has to let Jesus go and assume her mission: to announce to the brothers that he, Jesus, has ascended to the Father. Jesus has opened up the way for us and thus, once more, God is close to us.
.
Personal questions
.
• Have you ever had an experience which has given you the impression of loss and of death? How was it? What is it that gave you new life and gave you the hope and the joy of living?
• Which is the change that took place in Mary Magdalene throughout the dialogue? Mary Magdalene was looking for Jesus in a certain way and found him in a different way. How does this take place in our life?
.
Concluding Prayer
.
We are waiting for Yahweh;
he is our help and our shield,
for in him our heart rejoices,
in his holy name we trust.
Yahweh, let your faithful love rest on us,
as our hope has rested in you. (Ps 33,20-22)
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