March 29, 2016

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.
John 20:14-16

Why does Jesus ask Mary Magdalene the two questions, "Woman, why are you weeping?" and "Whom are you looking for?" We could say that it's so that she'll recognize Him, but it seems unlikely that she will recognize His resurrected body without some help. He already knows the answer, so he's not asking for information. Could it be that He is asking out of genuine care? To comfort her with His words, before He reveals that He is alive? I like the idea of Jesus ministering to His follower who had come to the garden thinking she would be the one ministering to Him (or at least to His deceased body). He cares about her tears, and doesn't want to see her cry and continue to suffer, especially because she has a great reason to rejoice!

Sometimes I feel like I need to put on a brave face for God--as if He can't tell what I'm really feeling! Or I don't make the connection that Mary does, that the one consoling me is the Lord. I treat Him like He really is a random gardener--"Oh, hey, nothing to see here, keep moving along, just gonna cry in front of this empty tomb here." What makes Mary Magdalene the great saint she is is that her energies are immediately redirected from the tomb to her Lord. One can almost see her get up and move, completely changing her orientation. She allows herself to be comforted. She allows in her life the possibility that God will do something new.

We, too, always need to leave God an opening. This is not to say every hurt will heal quickly or that the solution God proposes will look like what we had originally imagined. But when we are set upon fixing things alone, we remain stationary, and we are never able to proceed in the spiritual life. Let us instead watch and wait for that gardener, the helping hand, the consoling word, the uplifting homily, the supportive friend, the Scripture passage, the quiet peace, the small whispering wind. Let us expect God to be the loving Father that He is.

Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, pray for us!

Frassati NY