Thursday, July 31, 2014

“He who goes about to reform the world must begin with himself, or he loses his labor.”

“God freely created us so that we might know, love, and serve him in this life and be happy with him forever. God's purpose in creating us is to draw forth from us a response of love and service here on earth, so that we may attain our goal of everlasting happiness with him in heaven.

All the things in this world are gifts of God, created for us, to be the means by which we can come to know him better, love him more surely, and serve him more faithfully.

As a result, we ought to appreciate and use these gifts of God insofar as they help us toward our goal of loving service and union with God. But insofar as any created things hinder our progress toward our goal, we ought to let them go.” - St. Ignatius of Loyola

RESPONSORIAL PSALM (PS 146:1B-2, 3-4, 5-6AB)
R. (5a) Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob.
Praise the LORD, O my soul;
I will praise the LORD all my life;
I will sing praise to my God while I live.
R. Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob.
Put not your trust in princes,
in the sons of men, in whom there is no salvation.
When his spirit departs he returns to his earth;
on that day his plans perish.
R. Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob.
Blessed he whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the LORD, his God.
Who made heaven and earth,
the sea and all that is in them.
R. Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob.

The astute student of history is hard pressed to find Adolf Hitler and Ignatius Loyola mentioned in the same sentence -- the two, it would seem, could not be farther from one another. And yet this summer, I have found myself holding the two up for constant comparison.

Allow me to explain.

Although their lives took radically different directions, there are some interesting parallels in their beginnings. Both were born to Catholic families, but their faith was of little importance in early life (for Hitler, never); both Hitler and Ignatius served their countries in battle, and were lauded for their heroism. As young men, each spent nearly a year in solitude, consolidating his emerging thoughts: Hitler stewed in prison for treason in Munich, and Ignatius spent many months reflecting in a cave outside of Manresa. It was in these times away from the world where ideas flourished, and their reflections matured into two drastically different works: Mein Kampf and what would come to be the Spiritual Exercises.

And here, thankfully, the similarities end. Hitler believed that humanity could achieve lasting earthly perfection -- but to do so, humankind must rid itself of its impurities -- ideological, racial, religious, etc. For Ignatius, humanity's chief struggle was not to destroy perceived threats outside us, but to discern the desires within us. How easily our thoughts, intentions, and actions become tinged with pride, envy, greed. Faced with the anxieties of mortality each of us frantically grasps for the greater glory of myself. Ad Majorem Mei Gloriam.

Yet Ignatius at Manresa realized that to live this way yields only hollow pleasure and dissatisfaction. True joy, strength, and freedom came from abandoning his own plans, instead dispatching his energies back to the greater glory of God. Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam.

But why do this? Because Ignatius came to see how God labors in love, even as we struggle to control. God's might is revealed in sacrificial love and mercy, not power plays, fear mongering, and (at its worst) mass extermination of peoples.

Hitler tragically writes, "The stronger must dominate and not blend with the weaker, thus sacrificing his own greatness. Only the born weakling can view this as cruel." A marked contrast to St. Paul, who reminds us in Philippians that Jesus,

Though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God something to be grasped,
Rather, he emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
coming in human likeness;
and found human in appearance."

Ss. Paul and Ignatius knew from their conversions, as Hitler never would, that one cannot become a god by grasping at it. Instead, we must aim to pattern our lives on the God-man Jesus Christ, who willingly becomes weak. Only in this, can we share in God's great glory.

The asymmetry of this comparison -- Hitler and Ignatius -- lies not in the breadth of their reach, but in the source of their strength. For Hitler, solitary reflection bred a hatred that led to ruination and catastropic evil. Today, his Nazi party grounds in Nuremberg lie in ruin, like so many earthly princes'. For Ignatius, solitude with the Lord led him to become the man through whose weakness God's glory sings forth -- five hundred years later -- beautiful, true, and good. And it is his surrender to God which we celebrate and honor still today.

Saint Ignatius of Loyola, pray for us.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Where does your security lie?

Prayer is the place of refuge for every worry, a foundation for cheerfulness, a source of constant happiness, a protection against sadness.--St. John Chrysostom

RESPONSORIAL PSALM (PS 59:2-3, 4, 10-11, 17, 18)
R. (17d) God is my refuge on the day of distress.
Rescue me from my enemies, O my God;
from my adversaries defend me.
Rescue me from evildoers;
from bloodthirsty men save me.
R. God is my refuge on the day of distress.
For behold, they lie in wait for my life;
mighty men come together against me,
Not for any offense or sin of mine, O LORD.
R. God is my refuge on the day of distress.
O my strength! for you I watch;
for you, O God, are my stronghold,
As for my God, may his mercy go before me;
may he show me the fall of my foes.
R. God is my refuge on the day of distress.
But I will sing of your strength
and revel at dawn in your mercy;
You have been my stronghold,
my refuge in the day of distress.
R. God is my refuge on the day of distress.
O my strength! your praise will I sing;
for you, O God, are my stronghold,
my merciful God!
R. God is my refuge on the day of distress.

You can probably think of a time when you felt led to speak to someone, and in retrospect you felt sure that the Holy Spirit had used you to comfort or encourage them in a specific way. Wasn’t that an awesome feeling? It probably made you more alert to other opportunities, didn’t it? Or think about a really good confession, a time when you had a deep encounter with God’s mercy and experienced a real sense of renewal and hope. It probably helped make you more comfortable with the sacrament. Or when you saw the healing that came from your attempt to reconcile with someone after an argument—didn’t that make it worth letting go of a grudge or resentment?

Let God surprise you by showing you how much he’s doing in your life! Let him convince you of the power of his transforming love. Let him inspire you to do all you can to welcome him into every area of your life.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

"The best way to economize time is to 'lose' half an hour each day attending Holy Mass."

It is pleasant to spend time with Him, to lie close to His breast like the Beloved Disciple and to feel the infinite love present in His can we not feel a renewed need to spend time in spiritual converse, in silent adoration, in heartfelt love before Christ present in the Most Holy Sacrament? - Pope Saint John Paul II

Gospel Text: (LK 10:38-42)
Jesus entered a village
where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him.
She had a sister named Mary
who sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak.
Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said,
“Lord, do you not care
that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving?
Tell her to help me.”
The Lord said to her in reply,
“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things.
There is need of only one thing.
Mary has chosen the better part
and it will not be taken from her.”

Martha is burdened by much serving. It is unclear who exactly has burdened her. Has she perhaps burdened herself? Those of us who want to be perfect hosts know this burden. Or we have seen friends and family struggle to have the perfect dinner miss the actual dinner. Jesus calls Martha to this understanding. Be present – this is his invitation to her. Certainly, details will need to be addressed, but do these details trump the people coming to visit?

Again and again, Jesus’ invitation is to true presence in a real moment of life. Resurrection is not (only) some far-off experience, something that we will get to eventually, if only we believe hard enough. Rather, new life is the gift Jesus offers to us simply by his very presence. Jesus is Resurrection; Jesus is Life. And when we encounter him, we encounter life, we are raised.

Too often the burdens of our daily life keep us from that moment. We need things to be perfect, so we miss out on the joys found in the imperfections. Or, we focus so much on getting the details just right, that we miss the reason the details matter at all. In dark days, too, we can place all our hopes and dreams on some far-off vindication, or some abstract ideal, that we miss out on the gifts of life offered even amid apparent desolation.

In the Gospel noted above, Martha is not bad person. Nor has she chosen bad things, let alone sinful things. Attending to the details and hoping in the final resurrection of God’s People – these are good things! Jesus, though, invites her to not let those good things stand between her and a better thing. For, Jesus invites her to an immediate encounter with new life. Jesus extends that invitation to you and me, too.

Can we let go of our burdens and far-off dreams, good as they may be, to encounter the Resurrection and Life of Jesus today? Can we too choose “the better part”?

Monday, July 28, 2014

"No man can attain to the knowledge of God but by humility. The way to mount high is to descend."

Do you want to be daring in a holy way, so that God may act through you? Have recourse to Mary, and she will accompany you along the path of humility, so that, when faced by what to the human mind is impossible, you may be able to answer with a fiat! — be it done!, which unites the earth to Heaven. - St Josemaria Escriva

Gospel Text: (MT 13:31-35)
Jesus proposed a parable to the crowds.
“The Kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed
that a person took and sowed in a field.
It is the smallest of all the seeds,
yet when full-grown it is the largest of plants.
It becomes a large bush,
and the ‘birds of the sky come and dwell in its branches.’”

He spoke to them another parable.
“The Kingdom of heaven is like yeast
that a woman took and mixed with three measures of wheat flour
until the whole batch was leavened.”

All these things Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables.
He spoke to them only in parables,
to fulfill what had been said through the prophet:

I will open my mouth in parables,
I will announce what has lain hidden from the foundation
of the world.

The mustard seed is so tiny it is almost invisible, but if we take good care of it and water it properly... it ends up becoming a large tree. The yeast is invisible, but if it weren't present the dough would not rise. Such is the way for life lived as a Christian, the life of grace: you don't see it externally; it doesn't make a sound, but… if one lets it introduce itself in one's heart, divine grace nourishes the seed and converts people from sinners to saints.

We get this divine grace through faith, through daily prayer, through the sacraments, through love. But this life of grace is, above all, a gift that we must ask Jesus for with humility. A gift which the wise and learned of this world do not know how to appreciate, but that Our Lord God wants to transmit to the humble and uncomplicated.

It would be great if, when He looks for us, he finds us, not in the group of the proud, but amongst the humble, the ones who recognize themselves as weak sinners, but very grateful for, and trusting in, the goodness of the Lord. This way the “mustard seed” will grow into the large tree, the yeast of the Word of God will bring about for us the fruit of eternal life because «the more the heart is lowered in humility, the higher it is raised to perfection» (Saint Augustine).

Sunday, July 27, 2014

“Ordinary riches can be stolen, real riches cannot. In your soul are infinitely precious things that cannot be taken from you.”

“Where your pleasure is, there is your treasure: where your treasure, there your heart; where your heart, there your happiness” – St Augustine

Gospel Text: (MT 13:44-52)
Jesus said to his disciples:
“The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field,
which a person finds and hides again,
and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant
searching for fine pearls.
When he finds a pearl of great price,
he goes and sells all that he has and buys it.
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea,
which collects fish of every kind.
When it is full they haul it ashore
and sit down to put what is good into buckets.
What is bad they throw away.
Thus it will be at the end of the age.
The angels will go out and separate the wicked from the righteous
and throw them into the fiery furnace,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.

“Do you understand all these things?”
They answered, “Yes.”
And he replied,
“Then every scribe who has been instructed in the kingdom of heaven
is like the head of a household
who brings from his storeroom both the new and the old.”

Believe it or not, you are a treasure to God! This can be hard to believe sometimes because it’s not the way we usually look at ourselves. But you really are like treasure hidden in a field, out of view, not recognized.

This passage is about every single person God ever created. He paid the exact same price for each of them, from the greatest saint to the worst sinner. No one is excluded; no one is rejected; no one is barred. That treasure hidden in a field? It has a wide variety of gemstones and precious metals in it. Not all of them shine as brightly—at least not now. But each one is of immeasurable value to our Father. You are, and so are the people who are very different from you.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

God is always waiting for us, He never grows tired.

“I think we too are the people who, on the one hand, want to listen to Jesus, but on the other hand, at times, like to find a stick to beat others with, to condemn others. And Jesus has this message for us: mercy. I think — and I say it with humility — that this is the Lord's most powerful message: mercy.” 

— Pope Francis Homily on March 17, 2013

Gospel Text: (MT 13:24-30)
Jesus proposed a parable to the crowds.
“The Kingdom of heaven may be likened to a man
who sowed good seed in his field.
While everyone was asleep his enemy came
and sowed weeds all through the wheat, and then went off.
When the crop grew and bore fruit, the weeds appeared as well.
The slaves of the householder came to him and said,
‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field?
Where have the weeds come from?’
He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’
His slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’
He replied, ‘No, if you pull up the weeds
you might uproot the wheat along with them.
Let them grow together until harvest;
then at harvest time I will say to the harvesters,
“First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning;
but gather the wheat into my barn.”’

This parable shows us that when God reveals himself, we might feel confounded, for his thoughts are not our thoughts, and his ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8). “Why not pull up all the weeds immediately and let the wheat flourish?” we ask. But such a rash response shows that we need to reflect further on who God reveals himself to be. He is not a God who punishes immediately. He is a patient God who offers each “weed” every single chance to be transformed into “wheat.”

We all recognize that the enemy may have sown weeds, but God remains confident that he can bring good out of evil and so should we.

When we lean on our ideals, we can feel tempted to think we are the lucky ones, while the rest are still so far from God. Yet, Jesus proves that all of us, without exception are sinners in need of God’s mercy.

Let us, therefore, be on the alert to prevent the devil to sneak up on us, which is what normally happens when we conform ourselves too much to this world.

Friday, July 25, 2014

He who is not a good servant will not be a good master.

“Blessed is the servant who loves his brother as much when he is sick and useless as when he is well and can be of service to him. And blessed is he who loves his brother as well when he is afar off as when he is by his side, and who would say nothing behind his back he might not, in love, say before his face.” – St Francis of Assisi

Gospel Text: (MT 20:20-28)
The mother of the sons of Zebedee approached Jesus with her sons
and did him homage, wishing to ask him for something.
He said to her,
“What do you wish?”
She answered him,
“Command that these two sons of mine sit,
one at your right and the other at your left, in your Kingdom.”
Jesus said in reply,
“You do not know what you are asking.
Can you drink the chalice that I am going to drink?”
They said to him, “We can.”
He replied,
“My chalice you will indeed drink,
but to sit at my right and at my left, this is not mine to give
but is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.”
When the ten heard this,
they became indignant at the two brothers.
But Jesus summoned them and said,
“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them,
and the great ones make their authority over them felt.
But it shall not be so among you.
Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant;
whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave.
Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served
but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

St. Francis of Assisi changed the Church and changed the world with one simple proposition – that the Gospel is meant to be lived; that the Gospel can be lived. And that we live the Gospel by being men and women of loving service to one another; loving service to those in need.

“Preach the Gospel at all times, when necessary use words.”

Eight hundred years later, a new Francis has arrived on the world stage, our Holy Father Pope Francis. I think he wants to propose to us again the teachings of St Francis – and if we follow where he wants to lead us – not in word, but in action – we will again change the Church and change the world.

So, the question(s) is this: are we willing to take off our outer garment?  Are we willing to lay down our own Mantles? For us it may not be a Mantle of Privilege, it might instead be a Mantle of pride or jealousy, anger or selfishness, laziness or greed.  Whatever our “Mantle” is, can we lay it down and replace it with the Apron of Service? Because when we take off our outer garments then all things are possible for us – in and through God.  Someone said, “When we are young we think we can change the world by sheer force of will.  We march for our causes, speak out to be heard, we protest and write letters.  But, as we grow in spiritual maturity we may realize that the way to change the world is to put down our placards and pick up a towel and basin.”

My friends Jesus is real!  Let us be filled once again with the Real and Abiding Presence of Christ here this very day and let us become his Real and Abiding Presence in our world.  Let us become like Him, washers of feet.

“‘Do you realize what I have done for you?...I have given you a model to follow,  so that as I have done for you, you should also do.” (Jn.13:4-5, 12)

Thursday, July 24, 2014

“We are free to choose our paths, but we can't choose the consequences that come with them.”

“But the Hebrew word, the word timshel—‘Thou mayest’— that gives a choice. It might be the most important word in the world. That says the way is open. That throws it right back on a man. For if ‘Thou mayest’—it is also true that ‘Thou mayest not.” ― John Steinbeck, East of Eden

Gospel Text: (MT 13:10-17)
The disciples approached Jesus and said,
“Why do you speak to the crowd in parables?”
He said to them in reply,
“Because knowledge of the mysteries of the Kingdom of heaven
has been granted to you, but to them it has not been granted.
To anyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich;
from anyone who has not, even what he has will be taken away.
This is why I speak to them in parables, because
they look but do not see and hear but do not listen or understand.
Isaiah’s prophecy is fulfilled in them, which says:

You shall indeed hear but not understand,
you shall indeed look but never see.
Gross is the heart of this people,
they will hardly hear with their ears,
they have closed their eyes,
lest they see with their eyes
and hear with their ears
and understand with their hearts and be converted
and I heal them.

“But blessed are your eyes, because they see,
and your ears, because they hear.
Amen, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people
longed to see what you see but did not see it,
and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.”

Comedian Buddy Hackett used to quip, “My mother’s menu consisted of two choices: take it or leave it.” Today’s Gospel reading presents the same alternatives, but about something infinitely more important than food preferences. Will we take Jesus and his teaching or leave it?

By this point in Matthew’s Gospel, those who have been listening to Jesus are making choices. The “leavers” refuse to repent; some are even plotting his death (Matthew 11:20-24; 12:14). The “takers” are opening their hearts to Jesus and his message. Yet these disciples are confused about his teaching style. Why not speak more directly? Why use parables?

Jesus’ answer—“because they look but do not see and hear but do not listen or understand” (Matthew 13:13)—highlights the deliberate rejection of the “leavers”; they have already blocked their ears and are now experiencing the consequences of this choice. Commenting on Jesus’ approach, St. John Chrysostom explains: “We ourselves do this all the time. When we see someone listening inattentively and can’t persuade him to listen at all, then all that remains is to be silent. If we continue, even his inattentiveness is aggravated. But for someone who tries to learn, we continue on and offer much.”

So is Jesus giving up on those who reject what he offers, like Mother Hackett telling her kids to “take it or leave it”? Not at all! Jesus wants everyone to receive the good news of the kingdom. This is, in fact, why he speaks in parables. These surprising, often puzzling comparisons are teaching tools that can jolt people and provoke some thinking and changing. A shepherd who abandons the whole flock to search for one stray? A harvest of a hundredfold, when a yield of seven and a half was normal? These surprising stories suggest fresh, new possibilities about what God and his kingdom are like. And they invite everyone to respond accordingly.

So come to Jesus’ table with a “take it” attitude, hungry for every word he offers. If you want to be nourished, “more will be given,” and you “will grow rich” in understanding (Matthew 13:12).

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

If we do not actively seek God early in the morning, it will be very unlikely that we meet him later in the day.

“The aim of all Christian education, moreover, is to train the believer in an adult faith that can make him a "new creation", capable of bearing witness in his surroundings to the Christian hope that inspires him.” ― Pope Benedict XVI, The Sacrament Of Charity: Sacramentum Caritatis

Gospel Text: (Matthew 13:1-9)
On that day, Jesus went out of the house and sat down by the sea.
Such large crowds gathered around him
that he got into a boat and sat down,
and the whole crowd stood along the shore.
And he spoke to them at length in parables, saying:
“A sower went out to sow.
And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path,
and birds came and ate it up.
Some fell on rocky ground, where it had little soil.
It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep,
and when the sun rose it was scorched,
and it withered for lack of roots.
Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it.
But some seed fell on rich soil, and produced fruit,
a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.
Whoever has ears ought to hear.”

We often ask, “How can a “lost” person hear a message like that and not believe?” The soil of their heart was not properly prepared. Sometimes, we see people make professions of faith and then never see them again. Why? They possessed unprepared soil and they produced no fruit. Others come to our altars and make a profession, then they turn around and go right back out into sin. We look at them and say “What happened? No, the condition of the soil was not conducive to life! But, then there are those who hear the Gospel message, they come to Jesus and receive Him by faith. Their life changes and they serve the Lord. And, we see them and we say, “They ‘ve got the goods!” What’s the difference? The Gospel seed fell into prepared soil!

What is the state of our heart? Is our heart open to receiving the words of Jesus or are we hard of heart and a source of grief to Jesus? We like to think of ourselves as good people and in that sense we are the fertile soil that received the seed and produced much fruit. But since none of us is yet a saint we each have areas in our heart that are in need of spiritual cardiac surgery. Let’s compare ourselves to the people in the parable to see where we stand.

The first type of person is this one:

The seed sown on the path is the one who hears the word of the kingdom without understanding it, and the evil one comes and steals away what was sown in his heart. (Matt 13:19)

This seed unfortunately doesn’t even get a chance to sprout because it didn’t land on soil. There was a lack of understanding and the evil one stole away the word of God. Do we ever reject part of the message of the Gospel because we do not understand it? Do we say we are Catholic but due to lack of understanding the faith also give support to artificial contraception, same-sex marriage, abortion, stem cell research, pre-marital sex or a whole host of other issues where the Church’s teaching is not understood and we think we know better? There are reasons why the Church teaches what she does. Have we allowed prejudice or lack of understanding to prevent us from seeking to understand, and so reject part of the Gospel? Whenever we reject part of the message of the Gospel, to use the words of Jesus today, the evil one has stolen the word from our heart.

The second type of person is this one:

The seed sown on rocky ground is the one who hears the word and receives it at once with joy. But he has no root and lasts only for a time. When some tribulation or persecution comes because of the word, he immediately falls away. (Matt 13:20-21)

This time the seed does get to sprout but when the cross comes – “tribulation or persecution” - we give up. Have we ever been moved at a parish mission or the Eucharistic Congress but did not continue to walk a new way with Jesus for some reason? Have we ever been moved in our heart by God through a good experience in Confession or at Mass or in private prayer but we quickly went back to our old way of life because we could not see beyond some temporary difficulty or disappointment?

The third type of person is this one:

The seed sown among thorns is the one who hears the word, but then worldly anxiety and the lure of riches choke the word and it bears no fruit. (Matt 13:22)

It is “worldly anxiety and lure of riches” that this time hinder our hearts from being receptive to Jesus. Are there times when we are too busy to pray? Have we missed Mass because we were too busy or made up some other excuse? Are we too busy to read the Bible? Whenever we put “worldly anxiety and lure of riches” before God the word dies.

Finally the fourth type of person is this one:

….the seed sown on rich soil is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold. (Matt 13:23)

Thanks be to God that we each in many ways hear the word, understand it and bear fruit.

There is some of each of these four types of person in us. We could be all four of these persons at once, or predominantly one of these types of person for a certain time of life. Let us do some cardiac surgery on our spiritual hearts so that misunderstanding and prejudice, or disappointment and the cross, or worldly anxiety and the lure of riches will not render our hearts unfertile soil for the Jesus’ words, so that we do not grieve Jesus:

…the seed sown on rich soil is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold. (Matt 13:23)

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The purest suffering bears and carries in its train the purest understanding

On the Way of the Cross, you see, my children, only the first step is painful. Our greatest cross is the fear of crosses. . . We have not the courage to carry our cross, and we are very much mistaken; for, whatever we do, the cross holds us tight -- we cannot escape from it. What, then, have we to lose? Why not love our crosses, and make use of them to take us to heaven? - St. Jean Marie Baptiste Vianney

Gospel Text: (JN 20:1-2, 11-18)
On the first day of the week,
Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early in the morning,
while it was still dark,
and saw the stone removed from the tomb.
So she ran and went to Simon Peter
and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them,
“They have taken the Lord from the tomb,
and we don’t know where they put him.”

Mary 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 Magdalene went and announced to the disciples,
“I have seen the Lord,”
and then reported what he told her.

We are all very familiar with the story of Mary Magdalene’s encounter with the risen Jesus on Easter Sunday. But as often as we hear it, the tale never gets old. Why is that?

First, this story tells us that Mary’s devotion was so deep because of all Jesus had done for her.

Second, this story tells us that Jesus reaches out to everyone who loves him.

Third, love always sends us out.

All too often, we think of Saint Mary Magdalene, whose memorial we celebrate today, as the “sinful woman,” from the Gospel. We rarely focus on how Mary Magdalene was healed by Jesus and how she became a faithful disciple to the Lord. In the same way, we ourselves can fall into the pattern of recalling only our sins and our sinfulness while forgetting how we too have been healed by God and how like Mary Magdalene we strive in the midst of our human frailties to be faithful disciples.

Is there restlessness in your heart when you are at Mass or in prayer? Are your heart and your head in a battle, with your heart longing for Jesus but your mind preoccupied with many other things?

Catholics in their daily prayer life, who center on and foster a relationship with Christ in the Eucharist by devoting a few instants daily to contemplative praying and cultivating the assiduous reading of Jesus' Gospels, will also have the privilege of hearing a personal call from the Lord.

In the conversion of Magdalene, there was much love. In that dawn, Mary Magdalena takes risks for her Love, she listens to her Love (to hear Him saying "Mary" is enough for her to recognize Him) and as a result she meets the Father. The same can be said for us, if we open our heart.