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Do not bury hope

by davesandel on April 23rd, 2019

Do not bury hope

Tuesday in the Octave of Easter, April 23, 2019

Mary Magdalene stayed outside the tomb weeping. And as she wept, she bent over into the womb 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?”

– From John 20

After awhile, I just can’t answer that question. What else is there to do? Tears just don’t stop. I don’t even remember quite why I’m crying. I’m just exhausted.

But Mary’s morning was about to be filled with joy. Her “tomb mentality,” as Pope Francis called it, was shattered by a single sound from the stranger, perhaps the gardener? He said, “Mary.”

Jesus cared for her. He smiled, called her by name, told her what was happening to him, and asked her to go and tell the others. Do something, Mary. You no longer need to weep.

The Easter season is longer than Lent. Suffering and death give way to the relentless joy of the risen Jesus. At Saturday’s Vigil, Pope Francis reminded all of us, himself included, that “Easter is the feast of tombstones taken away, rocks rolled aside.”

See what wondrous love the Father has for us. Look up at the angels, look up at Jesus.

But there are many mirrors in my life. I look forward and I look back, and always there I am. As I see myself, I look again, and finally there is no one else to see. Whether in days of happiness or listless indifference, I’m alone.

This is not the way of God, not the way of Jesus.

“Do not bury hope!” the pope cried out. Emily Dickinson wrote, “We never know how high we are, till we are called to rise.” Francis continued:

The Lord calls us to get up, to rise at his word, to look up and to realize that we were made for heaven, not for earth, for the heights of life and not for the depths of death. “Why do you seek the living among the dead?”

 Do not fear, then. The Lord loves your life! Let us raise our eyes to the risen Jesus. His gaze fills us with hope, for it tells us we are loved unfailingly, and that however much we make a mess of things, his love remains unchanged.

 I’ve walked many labyrinths. Some are large and some are small. On some I must take mincing steps to stay on the trail. Others invite me to step out and stretch my legs. They might be made of stone, or green grass, or gravel. A labyrinth invites me to relax and reflect on my current “mess of things.”

As I reach the center, there is God’s love waiting for me unchanged, unchanging. I track my way back out to the “real world,” and God’s love goes with me, on my shoulders, in my hair. Jesus steps along in front, sometimes looking back to smile.

How I love his eyes.

In these days of presence, Jesus, I want to be with you all the way, to see myself as you see me, and trust you to see me true. I’ll throw away my cracked and ancient pocket mirror, and jump for joy.

Gerard O’Connell, “Do Not Bury Hope,” from America Magazine, April 20, 2019

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