Apr 26, 2011

"Go to my brothers and tell them . . ."

Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene

Tuesday readings, Easter week: http://www.usccb.org/nab/042611.shtml

Wednesday: The road to Emmaus - Christ in the Eucharist: http://www.usccb.org/nab/042711.shtml

Thursday in Easter week: "Peace be with you" http://www.usccb.org/nab/042811.shtml

Christ is risen - he is risen indeed, Alleluia! So the Church proclaims for these 50 days of celebration.

The other day I was given a copy of the New Testament printed in 1827 by a parishioner who's son had found it in a local antique shop. Though the outer cover and binding do need to be replaced, this King James version of the New Testament seems to be complete. The print is sharp and clear and the cover page has a legible signature on it. No, it isn't the signature of King James, what value if it did, but likely the signature of the owner who originially purchased the New Testament; a "Ricki Mullings." The words are archaic compared to present day American English, "hither, cometh, thither, hath, and saith," among the most present, it certainly has spiritual value. Although it isn't a Catholic Bible, it is still the inspired Word of God. It is nearly 200 years old and does qualify as an antique. So, I will see about having it rebound and will hold on to it.

We hold on to many things in our life: our money, good health, homes, children, friends, family, personal keepsakes, articles from loved one's who have passed away, our good reputations, and many other things. This Easter season calls us to hold on to much more than just our material possessions. This Tuesday's beautiful Gospel story John 20: 11-18, presents a very emotional encounter between Mary Magdalene and the risen Lord Jesus in the garden where the tomb of Jesus was found empty. Mary moves from emotions of sadness, grief and confusion to the sudden recognition that the man who approached her there was not the gardener but rather "my Lord" and "Rabbouni." Two angels inquire, "Woman, why are you weeping?" They recognize Mary's grief at the loss of Jesus. She had come to anoint the corpse of Jesus but found the tomb empty and logically assumed his body had been stolen. Then, the risen Lord approaches her and calls her by name, "Mary."

Evidently she either embraced him, fell at his feet and clung to his feet, or perhaps Jesus could sense that she felt his return to her meant that he would never leave. Yet, his mission was yet to be completed on earth and would now begin in the Apostles and through the Church he had established. Jesus says, "Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father but go to my brothers . . ."

Mary is commissioned to be an apostle to the Apostles. She is the first, it seems, to announce the truth of the resurrection to those who would carry that message, "to the ends of the earth" and begin the mission of the Church in earnest. That same mission continues in our day.

What may we be holding on to so tightly that it prevents us from fulfilling our mission to "go and tell my 'brothers' and sisters?" What is holding on to us? Fear? Relationships? Addictions? Indifference about our faith? Lent may have made us more aware of such areas that we need to let go of so we may be free to love and serve the Lord.

I will hold on to that Bible given to me. I don't know what material value it may have but I do know that the message it contains is a constant reminder to me that my vocation as both Christian and priest calls me to be a witness to the words it contains. The same is true for all of us as married, single, youth. Hold on to Christ but in and through his Church to find the courage and power needed - "Go, and tell my brothers."

John 20: 11-18

Mary Magadlene 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.