A Lenten Reflection 3/12 - 3/20, 2016 and the Gospel reading for 3/21.
The Weeping Mary
Mary Magdalene, according to John's gospel "was the one who had anointed the Lord with perfumed oil and dried his feet with her hair" (Jn12:3). She was probably weeping profusely then, as she "wet his feet with her tears" (Lk7:38). This stirring incident happened just six days before the Passion when Jesus was once again in Bethany visiting the family and after Lazarus was raised from the dead by Jesus.
And we know she was weeping after the death of Lazarus as told below.
The gospel story from Sunday, March 12th, explains that the Jews "saw her get up quickly and go out, presuming that she was going to the tomb [of Lazarus] to weep there". Instead she went to Jesus who had arrived at their house and "Jesus saw her weeping and the Jews who had come with her weeping and he became perturbed and deeply troubled, and said "where have you laid him?" Read the rest of the story here.
The morning of Jesus' Resurrection, we find a parallel story where the weeping Mary explains to Jesus (the gardener), that she doesn't know where they have laid him (Jesus' body):
Who "got it" ?
Who understood WHAT Jesus was talking about?
This is a good question and worth a thought.
Think first of Mary, his mother, then Elizabeth, her cousin, then Simeon and Anna in the temple. The New Testament records their testimonies. Joseph? Anne or Joachim? Zachariah? St John Baptist- did he get it? Initially, he asked to make sure.
Scripture tells us that many came to believe after witnessing Jesus' miracles and teachings. Martha, sister of Mary and Lazarus, according to her own words believed. The centurion's story is notable.
How many, however, second guessed themselves during and after Jesus' brutal crucifixion?
There were, in fact, great conversions like that of the Simon of Cyrene, the good thief and the centurion known as Loginus.
Holy Women, like Veronica and others walked the Via Crucis with Jesus. How much they understood about Jesus and his mission is unclear. Yet they followed.
Tradition tells us that Mary, Jesus' mother, stayed firm and John the Beloved stayed close by her side at the foot of the cross.
Mary Magdalene is listed as among those who remained at the cross, despite her misunderstandings.
Nonetheless, we are also reminded that most scattered and hid. Jesus later "rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart"
Even Peter, who earlier proclaimed "you are the Messiah", later denied that he even knew Jesus. Having realized his betrayal, Peter went out and wept bitterly.
Countless numbers despaired (and Judas completely) because they had seen Jesus dead or had heard that he was dead. Others silently pondered these things in their heart like Joseph of Arimathea.
Go tell them
The Gospel relates that after Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene and instructed her to go and tell His companions "who were mourning and weeping" that he had indeed risen ...and they did not believe her.
John, having reached the tomb first waited for Peter to enter, explains:
"Then that other disciple also went in, who came first to the sepulcher [John]: and he saw, and believed."
They Came to Believe
We know the rest of the story.
Eventually, and in a fully human, organic progression, a great number came to understand and believe- lastingly. St Bernard explains that they were saddened by their failings, but when they looked at God, they rejoiced in His Love.
Jesus did not abandon them. He kept walking beside them despite their previous failings. He continued to call them out of their spiritual darkness and into His glorious light.
The "Struggle" to Believe Perfectly
The logos or the "pre-human Jesus" according to early church father, St Gregory of Nyssa, tells us that "it would be a disadvantage for us NOT to be able to make a change for the better, as a kind of wing of flight for greater things". He encouraged his readers to " exchange 'glory for glory', becoming greater through daily increase, every perfecting himself, and never arriving too quickly at the limit of perfection". How wonderfully he explains this vision of perfection. It is one of daily struggle:
For this is truly perfection: never to stop growing towards what is better and never placing any restriction on perfection".
The Apostles, the Holy Women and other disciples "went out" to proclaim the Gospel to the ends of the earth. To help them fulfill that call, and as an aid in their perfection (and for future generations), the Risen Jesus promised to
send the Holy Spirit.
They were (and Mary was)
"cut to the heart"
(...as noted in the top photo box reflection).
What does that mean?
"When Peter reminds the Pentecost crowds of his accusation—that they participated in Jesus’ crucifixion by their shouting at the last holy day gathering, Passover—they are “cut to the heart.”
Luke uses this powerful phrase to explain the dynamics of repentance. He might be borrowing it from the Greek version of the Old Testament (Psalm 109:16), but it aptly describes the simultaneous impulse of searing regret and irresistible attraction entailed in repentance.
The verb translated as “cut” (katanussomai) can also mean “stab” or “pierce.” The crowds who had bellowed in favor of Barabbas on that fateful Friday, now feel their hearts stung. In English, we might say that they were “cut to the quick,” literally to be cut down to the deep flesh or bone. Peter’s speech prompts a profound change in the hearts of his hearers and out of their pangs of regret they plead with him and the apostles, 'What are we to do?'" link
God does not abandon those who trust Him, even though they do not understand the meaning of suffering... evil is momentary. link
My rendering of THE GARDENER (above) is from a VIA LUCIS series that I am slowly completing and only a thumbnail sized view is available at this time. For more information or sales, please contact me.
Notes, Art, Photography CMJENTZ ©2013-2018
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Christine M. (CM) Jentz.
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