THE NOW WORD ON MASS READINGS
for Monday, July 25th, 2016
Feast of St. James
Liturgical texts here
Love waits. When we truly love someone, or some thing, we will wait for the object of our love. But when it comes to God, to waiting for His grace, His help, His peace… for Him… most of us do not wait. We take matters into our own hands, or we despair, or become angry and impatient, or we begin to medicate our internal pain and anxiety with busyness, noise, food, alcohol, shopping… and yet, it never lasts because there is only one medication for the human heart, and that is the Lord for whom we are made.
When Jesus suffered, died, and rose again, Mary Magdalene ran to the Apostles to tell them that the tomb was empty. They came down, and seeing the empty tomb “returned home”.
But Mary stayed outside the tomb weeping. (John 20:11)
Love waits. Here, Mary symbolizes what every believer must become who desires to encounter the risen Lord: someone who waits for the Beloved. But she waits in tears because she does not know where the Lord is. How often we can feel this way, even if we have been Christians for decades! “Where are you Lord in this painful circumstance? Where are you Lord in this sickness? Where are you in this job loss? In my prayer? In all this uncertainty? I thought I was your friend, that I was being faithful… and now this Lord? All I feel and hear and see in this moment is the emptiness of the tomb.”
But she waited, for love waits for the Beloved.
But He does not come right away. First, she gazes into the depths of the tomb… the depths of her own poverty and helplessness. And there she sees two angels who ask her why she is weeping, as if to say, “Why do you think that Jesus has abandoned you?” Perhaps an answer she could have given is one of these: “Because I am too sinful,” or “Because I disappoint Him,” or “I have made too many mistakes in my life,” or “He doesn’t want me… how could He want me?” But because she knows that He alone can heal her wounds, she waits—love waits. And at last, she finds Him who never left her, but who only remained hidden.
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!” (John 20:15-16)
Yes, He too asks why she is weeping. But His very presence answers the question:
Those that sow in tears shall reap rejoicing. (Today’s Psalm)
How long must we wait? The answer is long enough, and only God knows how long that must be. But I can tell you that, having been a disciple of Jesus for most of my life (and having experienced tremendous losses, sorrows, and trials during this time), He never arrives too late because He has never left in the first place. But in order to receive His strength, His consolation, His peace and mercy, I have to desire Him. I have to be willing to wait by the tomb of my helplessness and weakness rather than “return home” to that place where I’m in “control”, for it is precisely in this place of surrender that I will encounter the omnipotence and power of God when the right time comes.
We hold this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us. We are afflicted in every way, but not constrained; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our body… (Today’s first reading)
Yes, love waits. This “dying of Jesus” that I carry within me is the letting go of ego, of control, of my own will. And how hard this is, especially in the simple day to day things when I lose my keys, or the kids forget their chores, or I make a stupid mistake. And it doesn’t matter whether one is a nun or a priest or layman. The path is the same, the way of the Cross. As Jesus asked James and John,
Can you drink the chalice that I am going to drink?… My chalice you will indeed drink… (Today’s Gospel)
James was eventually martyred and John was exiled to Patmos. They represent both the “active” and “contemplative” aspects of the Church. Still, the path for all of us is the same: the way of the Cross that leads to the tomb and the encounter of the Risen Lord.
The question is whether we are willing to wait for the Lord’s help, the Lord’s medicine, the Lord’s solutions, the Lord’s wisdom, the Lord’s providence, and the Lord’s way of revealing the path of our lives? This may take a few days, or maybe a few decades. But in the waiting is the proof of our love.
For love waits.
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Bless you, and thank you.
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