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Open prison doors, set the captives free

by davesandel on July 22nd, 2022

Friday, July 22, 2022

Feast of Saint Mary Magdalene

            (click here to listen to or read today’s scriptures)

 Open prison doors, set the captives free

For thirty years, from 1940 through 1970, O.P. Kretzmann, President, represented Valparaiso University. He managed to build relationships with millionaire donors, doctrinaire Lutheran officials, and groundbreaking activists. He built relationships above all, to students, of which I was one (from 1967-1971).

O.P. had a way with words.

There is a perennial miracle, a timeless magic, about college … and besides all else, let us say it again this morning in the spring of 1955, college must be a place where hope has not died, where the prison house of the modern world is not yet closed, where the door is open to yesterday and tomorrow, where no battle is quite yet lost; finally, where God moves, in quietness and in strength, to take our hopes and our dreams, for ourselves and for the world, and begins to build them into reality. I hope this has happened to you this semester. A blessed and happy summer.

I think of Mary Magdalene as one of those dreamers, in the best possible sense. “Where the prison door is not yet closed, where the door is open to yesterday and tomorrow, where no battle is quite yet lost.”

My soul clings fast to you; your right hand upholds me. My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God. And on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb.

She had no idea. The world was about to change, not just for her but for all of us. The blossom was about to bloom and would never die again.

Mary Magdalene did not know it yet, but she was being born again, into a world, “finally, where God moves, in quietness and in strength, to take our hopes and our dreams, for ourselves and for the world, and begins to build them into reality.”

She saw the tomb was empty. She ran to tell her brothers. She ran back to the tomb. She could not stop running. Her heart beat faster and faster. Her imagination was running away with her. What? What? What? What? And she wept!

Woman, why are you weeping? And whom are you looking for?

Sir, if you carried him away tell me where you laid him, and I will take him.

But this was not a well-meaning gardener. This was Jesus.

And Jesus said to her, “Mary!”

Can I catch my breath like Mary, hold the gaze of my savior and then fall weeping at his feet? “Where hope has not died and no battle is quite yet lost?”

Stop holding on to me, Mary, but go to our brothers and tell them, “I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.”

After the emotion, after the storm and settling, after the resurrection and the rainbow, comes the bright sunshine of every day, of all days. Thinking of the speech O.P. gave in 1940 when he assumed Valpo’s presidency, sixty years later Richard Baepler asked in his history of the school, “Can freedom, civility, service, integrity, citizenship, and social life be grounded in the Christian moral tradition rather than in atomistic individualism? And can we come to hold ‘success’ and the use of power and money accountable to purposes higher than mere acquisitiveness?”

These are questions for students, and for teachers, and for the rest of us. Ask Mary Magdalene and the disciples; they had the same choices to make as we do. How do I follow Jesus? How do I become and remain a loving, thoughtful citizen of the world? What will I do today?

I’ve got a river of life flowing out of me.

(Song of Songs, Psalm 63, John 20)

(posted at www.davesandel.net)

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