FOLLOWER OF JESUS, MODEL OF PENITENCE
Feast: July 22
It's what we're reminded of in the Song of Songs of Solomon. This is a book that many non believers would be shocked to find in the Bible. It opens with the line " let me kiss him.." and for a large part of this short book , explores the longing for one's lover. The obvious imagery is that God is the lover, longing for his children (the beloved) to return to Him (Her, in this case!). It does get a little descriptive at time, and I don't always know how to respond to it! However, in Monday's passage, the imagery is quite poignant on its own...I have very little to add to it. If you ask 'why was it Chosen for the feast day of Mary Magdelene', I'll simply say...really...the longing is key. Think of Mary on the day of the resurection, longing for her Jesus, her Rabouni. Her grief going to the tomb must have been overpowering, and her confusion, coupled with a sense of great joy, even stronger as she left the tomb. She was ready to cling to her Lord, to never let him go again. In that sense, to me, she becomes the lover in the Song of Songs who yearns for and searches high and low for her lover. She also reminds me of the Psalmist, who proclaims to God '...your ...love...is better than life itself.' Even the Psalmist uses the word 'cling'.
It's a powerful theme for Monday, especially as we reach the Gospel reading, which is usualy read during the Easter season. Once Mary realizes that it's Jesus who is standing in front of her, her instinct is to lunge for him of course, and to never let go. 'do not cling to me' he says. If anyone else where to hear that today, they'd be heart broken. The only person you love is telling you to let them go??? Yes, but his message is more powerful than that. He's really saying to her 'let your love for me be as strong as my love for you, and let it fuel you as you go out and tell the world about this love God has for all creation". Upon hearing these words, what else Could Mary do run....and proclaim to her brothers what she had heard. For that reason, what's most powerful about Mary for me is not her repentence, but the depth of her love for Christ. May we all learn to love so deeply, and not just love individuals, but love the entire world, as God did in the every begining.
Song of Songs 3:1-4
1 On my bed at night I sought the man who is my sweetheart: I sought but could not find him!
2 So I shall get up and go through the city; in the streets and in the squares, I shall seek my sweetheart. I sought but could not find him!
3 I came upon the watchmen -- those who go on their rounds in the city: 'Have you seen my sweetheart?'
4 Barely had I passed them when I found my sweetheart. I caught him, would not let him go, not till I had brought him to my mother's house, to the room where she conceived me!
2 Thus I have gazed on you in the sanctuary, seeing your power and your glory.
3 Better your faithful love than life itself; my lips will praise you.
4 Thus I will bless you all my life, in your name lift up my hands.
5 All my longings fulfilled as with fat and rich foods, a song of joy on my lips and praise in my mouth.
6 On my bed when I think of you, I muse on you in the watches of the night,
8 my heart clings to you, your right hand supports me.
9 May those who are hounding me to death go down to the depths of the earth,
Gospel, John 20:1-2, 11-18
1 It was very early on the first day of the week and still dark, when Mary of Magdala came to the tomb. She saw that the stone had been moved away from the tomb
2 and came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved. 'They have taken the Lord out of the tomb,' she said, 'and we don't know where they have put him.'
11 But Mary was standing outside near the tomb, weeping. Then, as she wept, she stooped to look inside,
12 and saw two angels in white sitting where the body of Jesus had been, one at the head, the other at the feet.
13 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.'
14 As she said this she turned round and saw Jesus standing there, though she did not realise that it was Jesus.
15 Jesus said to her, 'Woman, why are you weeping? Who are you looking for?' Supposing him to be 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.'
16 Jesus said, 'Mary!' She turned round then and said to him in Hebrew, 'Rabbuni!' -- which means Master.
17 Jesus said to her, 'Do not cling to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to the brothers, and tell them: I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my Godand your God.'