Mary tells all…the Resurrection

My son is alive!!! Jesus is alive! So that’s what He meant by “after three days, I will rise from the dead.”[1][Mk 8:31, 9:31; Mt 17:23, 27:63; Lk 18:33] I saw Him early that Sunday morning. I had been crying, hoping, waiting, and suddenly, there He was. We hugged, and kissed and cried…and hugged. I held Him as close as I had when He was a baby, and again on Friday, when they took Him down from the Cross and laid his lifeless body in my arms…but now He was back…alive!!! I was overjoyed. He was really here. All in white, bright, dazzling white [Lk 9:29], just like the boys described Him on the mountain. But He was also just like Friday, but the wounds were somehow glorious, amazing, wonderful now.

Then, He had to go. I knew everyone was looking for Him. Even when he use to preach and teach, He was always telling the boys: Let us go on to the nearby villages that I may preach there also. [Mk 1:38]

I asked Him to please see Peter. That poor boy was absolutely devastated; not only had he deserted Jesus when He said He wouldn’t [Mt 26:33,35], not only had he swore he would lay down his life for Him [Jn 13:37]; but then he denied he even knew Him three times, just as Jesus had predicted. [Mk 14:72] Peter’s been inconsolable ever since. Jesus said He knew and would see him after reassuring the other women.

Later, He appeared to the rest of the group. Even though Peter, I, Mary, and the boy’s mothers [Mt 27:56,61;28:1] told them we had seen Jesus, they kept saying the story seemed like nonsense and they did not believe us. [Lk 24:9-11] But then, suddenly, locked doors and all, He was right there and they could see Him and touch Him. I think seeing Him eat in front of them finally convince them He was for real. [Lk 24:36-43]

Of course, dear Thomas, he wasn’t there that Sunday. He refused to be convinced in spite of the fact that all of us told him. Finally, when he saw those glorious holes in my Son’s hands and that gaping gleaming wound in His side, when my Son was right there, standing and talking to him, Thomas was convinced. He even said what I had known all along from Gabriel, from the beginning, from being His mother, that my Son, my Boy, was not only their Jesus; He was also their Lord and their God! [Jn 20:28]

As usual, He is his own Man. He kept telling us that He is in each of us, even the least of these [Mt 25:40-45] Perhaps that’s why sometimes some of us didn’t recognize Him. Even Mary Magdalene who loved Him more than many, even she was fooled early that morning, thinking He was a gardener. Only when He said her name, did she know Him. [Jn 20:15-16]

The most wonderfully humorous appearance was to two of our newcomers. So fervent they were before the crucifixion, and then, when he died, they were completely devastated.[Lk 24:17] Jesus told me about it later. They didn’t recognize Him at all at first; after His Resurrection, He was different somehow…it was as though we needed to adjust our eyes to see Him. They were just so distraught that when my Son, the teaser, pretended not to know what was going on, they lit into Him as if He were a simpleton: Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know of the things that have taken place there in these days?[Lk 24:18] Then they poured out their version of who He was, their great expectations of Him, what had happened to Him. They even admitted that they hadn’t believed the women from our group and some of those with us [Lk 24:22,24] that said that He was not in the tomb.

My Son is very patient. He pointed out that they needed to study the Neviʾim[2]: You are slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and enter into his glory?[Lk 24:25-26] Well, anyway, after He enlightened them by pointing out where our prophets foretold His suffering, death and resurrection, they wanted Him to stay. So, He joined them for dinner. You must understand that my Son has a unique way of blessing the food. When He did this ritual, they finally recognized Him.

According to those two, He then disappeared. Since He came back, He does that, all of a sudden appear and then equally amazingly disappear. I think He is seeing as many people as possible since He loves them all and knows they all want to see Him. I know once, he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at once [1Cor 15:6].

Now He is going to leave again. He’s homesick, in a sense. Recently, he’s been saying things like I came from the Father and have come into the world; again, I am leaving the world and am going to the Father. [Jn 16:28] I guess it’s time for him to return to Him. He said once: I came down from heaven not to do my own will but the will of the one who sent me. [Jn 6:38] He’s done that; he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross. Now, it’s time that God greatly exalt him. [Phil 2:8-9]

He has been warning us, telling us that he will be leaving from early on[3] but particularly recently at the Passover Supper when He said: My children, I will be with you only a little while longer. You will look for me, and as I told the Jews, ‘Where I go you cannot come,’ so now I say it to you….Simon Peter said to him, “Master, where are you going?” Jesus answered [him], “Where I am going, you cannot follow me now, though you will follow later.” [Jn 13:33,36

We thought, after His crucifixion, that perhaps He was referring to persecution and death. But then, He spoke about His Father’s house…in which there were many dwelling places. He said He was going to prepare a place for us: And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be. Where [I] am going you know the way. [Jn 14:3-4]

I recall that He said He had to go in order to send us a helper: I am going to the one who sent me…. But I tell you the truth, it is better for you that I go. For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you….When he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth. [Jn 16:5,7,13] My Son was a great one for Truth, perhaps because He got questioned so often if what He was saying was the Truth. But, as He himself said of Himself and I knew to be true from the moment I conceived Him, I am the way and the truth and the life.[Jn 14:6]

He made it very clear; He came from the Father…into the world.[Jn16:28a], the same Father, who is the Lord God, the “Most High” to whom Gabriel referred[4], the same Father to whom Jesus referred long ago in the Temple when Joseph and I found Him[5], the Father to whom He constantly referred in His teaching as being the One whose will He was carrying out[6], whose actions He was mirroring on earth[7], whose unconditional love he as here to show us[8], but now, He is leaving the world and going back to the Father. [Jn 16:28b] Even His disciples said, “Now you are talking plainly, and not in any figure of speech.[Jn 16:29]

Even though He was leaving us in the world, he was very concerned about our safety and prayed to the Father: And now I will no longer be in the world, but they are in the world, while I am coming to youI do not ask that you take them out of the world but that you keep them from the evil one. [Jn 17:11,15]

Then it was time for Him to return to His Father. He stayed with us over a month after His death. In a sense, I think He was of two minds, His human nature wanted to stay, but His divine nature wanted to go. He always ultimately followed His divine nature; that was His lode stone, His unerring compass that always was true, was loving, always what His Father wanted and therefore He wanted. I think that he also realized that by staying, He could only be in one place at a time, with one group of people at a time. And He could not send His Spirit. By going to the Father, He then was able to dispense His Spirit everywhere.

Since His death, we travelled to Galilee and back, and now we’re here in Jerusalem again, in the same place we held the Passover. From here, he lead us out to His favorite place, the Mount of Olives near Bethany,[9] He blessed us as He usually did, reminded us to stay here in Jerusalem until He sent the Spirit[10], and that we were to baptize in the names of the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit for the forgiveness of sin[11] and teach everyone to do all that He commanded us.

Then He just went up into the sky until He was covered by a cloud. We were so amazed we just kept watching…and finally two angels appeared there with us and broke the spell and told us that He would come again in the same way…

They say: “Parting is such sweet sorrow,” but for us, for some reason, we were all giddy with joy. He was here. He promised to be with us always. He is coming again. We knew the Son of God, and He proved it himself. We touched Him, held Him, heard Him, ate with Him. And He taught us so much, not only by His words but more often by what He did. Some of our family thought He was mad[12], but He was just being my Son. Headstrong, focused, deliberate,…and yet loving, caring, understanding.

Well, I look forward to living in one of those “dwelling places” He mentioned. But, in the meantime, I have to look after my “new” son, John [Jn 19:26] and, of course, the “boys.” I think Jesus gave me them so I wouldn’t miss Him so much…kinda like caring after Him again, these “least ones.” Besides, I have a feeling that this Spirit Jesus is sending is going to change everything….

To be continued…..

[1] Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

[2] The Hebrew Bible is organized into three main sections: the Torah, or “Teaching,” also called the Pentateuch or the “Five Books of Moses”; the Neviʾim, or Prophets; and the Ketuvim, or Writings. It is often referred to as the Tanakh, a word combining the first letter from the names of each of the three main divisions.

[3] I will be with you only a little while longer, and then I will go to the one who sent me. You will look for me but not find [me], and where I am you cannot come. [Jn 7:33-34] I am going away and you will look for me, but you will die in your sin. Where I am going you cannot come. [Jn 8:21] The light will be among you only a little while. Walk while you have the light, so that darkness may not overcome you. [Jn 12:35]. See also OT predictions of his departure: Dt 4:29; Prv 1:28; Is 55:6; Hos 5:6.

[4] Lk 1:28,30,32.

[5] Lk 2:49.

[6] Jn 4:34; 5:30; 14:10, etc.

[7] Jn 5:9; 8:28.

[8] Jn 3:16,17.

[9] Acts 1:12; Lk 24:50.

[10] Lk 24:49.

[11] Mt 28:19; Lk 24:47.

[12] Mk 3:21.

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MEDITATION ON THE ASCENSION: WHY CAN’T YOU STAY? …a repeat

Posted on May 14, 2015

WHY CAN’T YOU STAY?

I don’t know about you, but I often wish that Jesus was still among us, that he had not ascended,  and that I could see Him and talk to Him.  It would simplify a lot of things: He would be here to explain exactly what He meant about this or that, He could, if he wished, solve world crises, He could, if He wished, cure all sickness, eliminate all violence, and bring heavenly peace to the world…

That’s not the way it happened however.  After His Resurrection, He appeared to various people and groups, and, as Paul points out, even when He appeared to more than five hundred brothers at once [1Cor 15:6], it was always “at one time.” His appearances were temporal, i.e. within time and space, one at a time, as Paul again testified: after that he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. I am not saying that He could not, had He wished, bi- or multi-located simultaneously, but to validate His true human Resurrection in a single human body, He demonstrated his presence by enjoying fish with His apostles at least twice [Lk 24:43; Jn 21:15] and by showing his disciples his hands and his feet [Lk 24:39-40] and by having Thomas put his finger in the holes in his hand and his hand in the hole in his side [Jn 20:27],and by appearing in only one place at one time.

But then I begin thinking about it and that wouldn’t have been such a good idea.  Why didn’t He remain on earth, which He could have done, I was consider what that would have meant.  It certainly would have had a negative impact: (a) if He continued His single place at a single time, He would either have had to stay in one place, in which case, the world would be on pilgrimage to Him, the place would have been totally mobbed, and no matter how many Trinitron huge screens they set up, it would not have been enough; (b) if he did appear from place to place, he would have, perforce, been distanced from at least most of His followers all the time, especially those who were too poor to make the trip, but these were the very people with whom He identified; (c) He would be able to show the common touch to each “lucky” soul only every once in a while, having to make the entire circuit of the world; meanwhile the rest of humanity longed for his comforting; (d) while, because of His resurrected status, He himself would be immune from assassins, the ire of his opponents would have been turned on His followers even more ferociously than has happened.   And I am not even taking into consideration the historical, political and social ramifications, all of which would have been significantly impacted by His presence and periodic appearances.

The spiritual ramifications would have been even more devastating.  The value of the Eucharist, His Divine and human presence in our midst, would have been undermined… “if we can see him in person, isn’t that better than His Body and Blood in transformed Bread and Wine?” The only sacred place on earth would be where He was at that particular time.  Reconciliations through priests would be considered at least second rate in comparison with a one-on-one with Jesus.  How could 1 billion people share a meal…we couldn’t even get to the same place, the same table, at the same time.  Would He have had to devote Himself to “running” the Church…and, if He continually sent out new disciples to minister to His people, they would have been considered inferior to seeing “The God/Man” in person.  Contemplation would loose its efficacy; it would be considered much better to be physically in His presence.  In essence, His whole emphasis on the worship of the Father through Him would have given way to the misplaced human idolatry of Him by the paparazzi on earth, with little or no thought to the inevitability of the eschatological heavenly Kingdom, let alone the innate purpose here on earth of each to praise, reverence and serve God, loving Him with our whole heart, our whole mind, all our strength and all our soul.

[1] Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

“One Tough Cookie”: In honor of Mary on Mother’s Day

One of the things that impresses me about Mary is the tremendous chutzpah she exhibits when dealing with God. I have imagined her as this retiring and shy country maiden who has everything done unto her according to God’s will….All her actions starting with explicit faith in God, the outcomes placed with complete trust and hope in God, and the executions humble charity expressing her love of God and her neighbor. And, indeed, this is the case, humble, obedient to God’s will, yes, but also assertive and authoritative. Retiring and shy she is not. She is one tough cookie,

The facts speak for themselves. From the beginning, when we are introduced to her as encountering Gabriel, an Archangel, no less, who stands in the presence of God, she was unphased. Gabriel must be an awesome dude. I mean, angels go through Egypt killing all the firstborn in one night, these are the seven legion guys whom Jesus could have called on in the garden, these are they who carry out God’s orders to slaughter and annihilate the unrighteous right and left in Revelation. Yet, unlike her cousin’s husband, Zacharias, who was troubled when he saw the angel, and fear gripped him[1] [Lk 1:12], she is unphased by his sight, but more concerned about what he says; she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was. [Lk 1:29]. Gabriel’s Do not be afraid, Mary [Lk 1:30] was probably to calm her being startled, her trying to figure out how this guy got in here, who he was and what he wanted…as anybody would be. But she didn’t try to flee nor crumble with fear; she stood her ground and listened.

Her firm clear grasp of reality is blatantly evident in her question: How can this be, since I am a virgin? [Lk 1:34] In other words, she cuts through the highfalutin prophetical language, picks out the main point: And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus [Lk 1:31] and addresses the issue…”We have a slight problem, as far as I know, I need to have intercourse with a man to be conceive and I am betrothed but not wed, so how can this be?

Her assent to Gabriel and God was not some simple “Ok” or “You’re God, do I really have a choice?” Mary seriously considered the terms of the request and knew the ramifications, i.e.. she would be stigmatized as an adulterous woman, either stoned or outcast from her family and her village, she would bring shame on her family, she would devastate Joseph, and she would be forced to live the life of a single mother trying to support herself and her child…not happy prospects. Yet she weighed her options and assented, not just assented but embraced her role as God’s slave, His servant, she was His handmaid of the Lord. She freely chooses to relinquish control of her life and to hand herself totally over to God. If He wished to “overshadow”[2] her for His own purposes, she trusted Him explicitly. Somehow, some way, this was God’s will for her, her God with whom she had found favor; but she had always lived according to His dictates and she wasn’t going to stop now, even if she couldn’t see her way clear to a happy outcome for herself.

One might have thought that just absorbing the implications of this heavenly visit, let alone this announcement which encapsulated the entire salvific history and prophecy of her people would have been so overwhelming that she would have just walked around in a daze for a while. Not Mary. She had things to do, places to go, people to see! She had picked up on the fact that Elizabeth, her aged cousin was “with child”. To Mary, that implied just one thing: that she needed her help. And so off she goes, no thought of the discomfort, the dust, the distance, let alone, the dangers, the possibility of being captured, raped, sold into slavery. Off she goes…120 miles if she skirted Samaria. At least a five day journey by foot, four by caravan going down to Jerusalem, then cutting across the hill country of Judah.

When Mary arrives, miracles happen: When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believethat what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled. [Lk 1 41-45] John leaps, Elizabeth experiences Pentecost and, kazaam, becomes a prophetess.

One might think that Mary would have been completely dumbfounded, totally taken aback by all this…Instead, Mary, true to form in her handmaid’s role, praises God for all that He has done for her and all who fear Him, the lowly, the hungry, Israel His servant, Abraham and his descendents forever. While exegetes question whether she actually sang this song of praise or whether it was “a Jewish Christian hymn that Luke found appropriate at this point in his story,”[3] it is evident that both Luke and his Inspirer, the Holy Spirit, wished to emphasize that Mary was not just a flighty, little teenager. She had a firm grasp of her heritage. On her journey south, she had time to ponder with the Holy Spirit the implications and ramifications of what had happened to her not just for herself but for her people. So she lays it out for us…”pay attention, this is what is happening!”

When she returns to Nazareth three months later, three months pregnant and showing, Joseph freaks. But what does Mary do? Nothing. No “I’m so ashamed,” no “I’m sorry,” no “Hey, I’m the pregnant one here.”   She has rock-solid faith in God; God started this, and she had faith in God that He would take care of her and her child. Even when she gets the news from Joseph, that since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame,[he had] decided to divorce her quietly, [Mt 1:19] she didn’t flinch.

Not to say that she wasn’t affected. She, like her Son, was human in every way but sin…so she was certainly terribly saddened by the anguish and disappointment of her parents and the reviling by her neighbors, and perhaps prayed to God as her Son did later, My God, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will. [Mt 26:39] And her prayer was answered; Joseph was shown the light; after a visit from another angel, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home. [Mt 1:24]

Tune in tomorrow for “One Tough Cookie Continued.” In the meantime, a blessed Mother’s Day to you all.

[1] Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

[2] ἐπισκιάζω, to “shadow over,” is the same word used by all the Synoptics to describe the theophanies or “appearance” of the “Most High” at the Baptism and Transfiguration. [Mt 17:5; Mk 9:7; Lk 9:34]

[3] NABRE note on Luke 1:46–55. The note also points to the fact that “a few Old Latin manuscripts identify the speaker of the hymn as Elizabeth, even though the overwhelming textual evidence makes Mary the speaker.”

ON THE CHRISTIAN MEANING OF HUMAN SUFFERING by John Paul II

John Paul II’s insights into suffering are magnificent. Truly, they give us a better understanding of suffering: “not of course completely (for this we would have to penetrate the divine-human mystery of the subject), but at least they help us to understand that difference (and at the same time the similarity) which exists between every possible form of human suffering and the suffering of the God-man.” [SD, 18]

  • That Jesus, out of love for each one of us, took on perfect obedience to the Father, took on all our disobediences, becoming sin [2Cor 5:21], and wrapped them up and forgave/gave-for us perfect obedience to the Father.
  • In doing so, He simultaneously took on all our suffering, not only our “temporal suffering, any kind of suffering, but the definitive suffering: the loss of eternal life, being rejected by God, damnation,” [SD, 14] and united it to His, and thus, took on love for us and united it to His love of the Father; “in a certain sense he annihilates this evil in the spiritual space of the relationship between God and humanity, and fills this space with good.” [SD, 17]
  • “Christ descends, in a first phase, to the ultimate limits of human weakness and impotence: indeed, he dies nailed to the Cross. But if at the same time in this weakness there is accomplished his lifting up, confirmed by the power of the Resurrection, then this means that the weaknesses of all human sufferings are capable of being infused with the same power of God manifested in Christ’s Cross.” [SD, 23]
  • “Suffering as it were contains a special call to the virtue which man must exercise on his own part. And this is the virtue of perseverance in bearing whatever disturbs and causes harm. In doing this, the individual unleashes hope, which maintains in him the conviction that suffering will not get the better of him, that it will not deprive him of his dignity as a human being, a dignity linked to awareness of the meaning of life.” [SD, 23]
  • “The sufferings of Christ created the good of the world’s redemption. This good in itself is inexhaustible and infinite. No man can add anything to it. But at the same time, in the mystery of the Church as his Body, Christ has in a sense opened his own redemptive suffering to all human suffering. In so far as man becomes a sharer in Christ’s sufferings—in any part of the world and at any time in history—to that extent he in his own way completes the suffering through which Christ accomplished the Redemption of the world…. Christ opened himself from the beginning to every human suffering and constantly does so. Yes, it seems to be part of the very essence of Christ’s redemptive suffering that this suffering requires to be unceasingly completed.” [SD, 24]
  • “When this body is gravely ill, totally incapacitated, and the person is almost incapable of living and acting, all the more do interior maturity and spiritual greatness become evident, constituting a touching lesson to those who are healthy and normal.” [SD, 26]
  • “But in general it can be said that almost always the individual enters suffering with a typically human protest and with the question “why”. He asks the meaning of his suffering and seeks an answer to this question on the human level. Certainly he often puts this question to God, and to Christ. Furthermore, he cannot help noticing that the one to whom he puts the question is himself suffering and wishes to answer him from the Cross, from the heart of his own suffering. Nevertheless, it often takes time, even a long time, for this answer to begin to be interiorly perceived. For Christ does not answer directly and he does not answer in the abstract this human questioning about the meaning of suffering. Man hears Christ’s saving answer as he himself gradually becomes a sharer in the sufferings of Christ…. For it is above all a call. It is a vocation. Christ does not explain in the abstract the reasons for suffering, but before all else he says: “Follow me!”. Come! Take part through your suffering in this work of saving the world, a salvation achieved through my suffering! Through my Cross. Gradually, as the individual takes up his cross, spiritually uniting himself to the Cross of Christ, the salvific meaning of suffering is revealed before him.” [SD, 26]
  • “A source of joy is found in the overcoming of the sense of the uselessness of suffering, a feeling that is sometimes very strongly rooted in human suffering. This feeling not only consumes the person interiorly, but seems to make him a burden to others. The person feels condemned to receive help and assistance from others, and at the same time seems useless to himself. The discovery of the salvific meaning of suffering in union with Christ transforms this depressing feeling. Faith in sharing in the suffering of Christ brings with it the interior certainty that the suffering person “completes what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions”; the certainty that in the spiritual dimension of the work of Redemption he is serving, like Christ, the salvation of his brothers and sisters. Therefore he is carrying out an irreplaceable service.” [SD, 27]
  • “In the messianic program of Christ, which is at the same time the program of the Kingdom of God, suffering is present in the world in order to release love, in order to give birth to works of love towards neighbor, in order to transform the whole of human civilization into a ‘civilization of love’… At one and the same time Christ has taught man to do good by his suffering and to do good to those who suffer. In this double aspect he has completely revealed the meaning of suffering.” [SD, 30]

I commend to your reading the entire Apostolic Letter: http://w2.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/apost_letters/1984/documents/hf_jp-ii_apl_11021984_salvifici-doloris.html