PERSONAL ENCOUNTER

Tuesday within the Octave of Easter              

            In confusion and grief, Mary Magdalene stood weeping outside Jesus’ tomb. This Rabbi who had loved her as no one had loved her was gone. Not only was he dead, his body was missing – apparently stolen away. Jesus so touched her heart when he was alive that she wanted to honor him in his death by giving him a proper burial. And now even that was taken away from her. Would there be no end to this tragic series of events?

            But Mary’s sadness was to be short-lived. First there were angels; then a mysterious gardener; then, finally, the one thing she had so longed for and thought she would never hear again: Jesus’ voice speaking her name. In an instant everything changed, Jesus was alive!

            This encounter was deeply personal. Leo Zanchettin comments, “By speaking her name, Jesus touched her at the center of her heart, the place where all her fears lurked, the place where the struggle between the darkness of sin and the light of God’s love was the fiercest.” “There, in the depth of her heart, Mary received the love of God, her sadness was turned into a joy that moved her to tell the other disciples: ‘I have seen the Lord!’” Mary only recognized the risen Lord when he called her by name – which was Jesus’ way of making her feel his love.

            Mary’s encounter with the risen Lord shows us what can happen in our own prayer as we quiet our hearts and listen attentively to his voice. Every day, Jesus asks us to let him enter the places of our hearts where fears, anxieties, and confusions reign, where sadness, loneliness, and darkness pervade – those places that we hide from the rest of the world. Let him enter those places and heal them with his love. As he speaks our name, we too can say with Mary, “I have seen the Lord!”

            Prayer should be our way of listening attentively to the risen Lord who speaks our name. Well, it takes a lot of discipline to keep silent and to really listen in prayer. Because, the fact is, there are a lot of noises – from within and outside us. But if we really want to hear the Lord speaking to us in love – calling us intimately by name – we need to pray. May God’s Spirit help us to listen… so that when he speaks our name, we will be able to receive his love and proclaim his resurrection.

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