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Posts Tagged ‘Psalm 63’


Mark 16: The Magdalene

Monday, August 12, 2019

Van der Weyden: Mary Magdalene

A Favorite from July 22, 2008.

The Evangelists tell us that Jesus first appeared to Mary Magdalene.  July 22 is her feast day. When we pause to reflect on this singular woman, we wonder . . . What must she have been truly like?  What was she thinking as she stooped to look into the tomb as John tells us in his Gospel?  What is her real story?

St. Gregory the Great tells us something of her character.  From MAGNIFICAT: It is true that she had already seen that the sepulcher was empty, and had already reported that the Lord had been taken away.  Why did she stoop down again, why did she long again to see?  It is not enough for a lover to have looked once, because the force of love intensifies the effort of the search.  She sought a first time and found nothing; she persevered in seeking, and so it happened that she found him.  It came about that her unfulfilled desires increased, and as they increased they took possession of what they found.

From the Mass readings:  The Bride says: on my bed at night I sought him whom my heart loves – I sought him but I did not find him.  I will rise then and go about the city; in the streets and crossings I will seek him whom my heart loves.  I sought him but I did not find him.  The watchmen came upon me, as they made their rounds of the city: Have you seen him whom my heart loves?  I had hardly left them when I found him whom my heart loves.  (Song of Songs 3:1-4b)

O God, you are my God whom I seek; for you my flesh pines and my soul thirsts like the earth, parched, lifeless and without water.  ( Psalm 63)

What is the Magdalene’s story?  Why does she come with the other women, worrying about who will move away the stone, carrying the spices for embalming?  Why does she return, bending to look another time when she knows the tomb to be empty?

Henryk Siemiradzki: The First Meeting of Christ and Mary Magdalene

The Magdalene believes.  She trusts.  She hopes.  She endures.  She perseveres.  She will not be turned away.  She loves.

Any one of us who has truly loved understands this force of love about which St. Gregory writes.

Any one of us who has sought that which has been lost has felt this sorrow.

Any one of us who has persisted in our search has found this joy.

And so we wonder . . . what is the Magdalene’s real story?


Images from: https://thenoontimes.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/henryk_siemiradzki-_christ_and_sinner-_the_first_meeting_of_christ_and_mary_magdalene-_18731.jpg and http://www.bible-topten.com/MaryMagdalene.htm

Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation.” MAGNIFICAT. 7.23 (2008). Print.  

For more on some of the many portraits and statues of Mary Magdalene, click on the images above or go to: http://www.bible-topten.com/MaryMagdalene.htm

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Ezekiel 37: From Dry Bones to Restoration – Part IIwith-God

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

At the end of chapter 37 is the Oracle of the Two Sticks in which we understand that the two kingdoms will be re-united (something thought totally impossible) and the true Davidic king will reign eternally from Jerusalem – Jesus.  The chapters following this one describe the battle against Gog, again a dramatic description, and the end-of-time feast in the restored Jerusalem. In all, this portion of Ezekiel’s prophecy tells the reader that what is thought impossible . . . is possible for God.  It tells us that God does not abandon us even when we abandon God.  It tells us that God loves us and God is constantly with us, even when we have turned away.

The most hopeless of cases have hope in them somewhere, but it takes an act of great love to resuscitate what has been lost.  God does this for us, and God calls us to do the same for one another.  When we move through a desert experience it is difficult to believe that God is with us; but this difficulty does not make God’s love more distant. Through the visions of Daniel and Ezekiel we see that with God all things are possible. It is possible to move toward our own conversion. It is possible to move away from the brittleness of the dry bones and toward the refreshing, renewing waters of restoration in the New Jerusalem.

There is a line from an old novena to St. Jude that I remember: When the difficult was too great to bear, Saint Jude somehow managed to see that it was lifted.  It was almost as if he had set the pattern for one of the branches of the armed services: “The difficult I shall take care of immediately; the impossible (in terms of human power) may take a little longer”.  Faith found that humility means power in the eyes of God.

Jesus saidAnd so we can petition God for forgiveness – which God freely gives. We can ask for restoration. And this God also gives.  We can come before God humbly as we stagger through the deserts of our lives, and we can ask that God grant us all that we believe to be impossible. And God will always answer.

In MAGNIFICAT on Saturday evening, there was a small reflection at the beginning of the Evening Prayer: God is present in the deserts of our lives.  It is in the desert that God revealed himself to Abraham.  It is in our dryness and desolation that God is often working the most marvelous transformations.  Let us rejoice in this blessed desert . . . where Christ reveals himself.  

As we tumble into our beds, perhaps weary at the end of a dry day full of impossibility, let us remember to pray for the impossible as the psalmist does in Psalm 63.

O God, you are my God, for you I long; for you my soul is thirsting.  For your love is better than life, my lips speak your praise.  So I will bless you all my life, in your name I will lift up my hands.  My soul shall be filled as with a banquet, my mouth shall praise you with joy.  On my bed I remember you.  On you I muse through the night for you have been my help; in the shadow of your wings I rejoice.  My soul clings to you; your right hand holds me fast.

 As we begin our days that promise impossibility, let us remember . . .

O God, you are my God, for you I long; for you my soul is thirsting.  Your love is better than life . . . My souls clings to you . . . your right hand holds me fast.  Amen. 

Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Evening.” MAGNIFICAT. 26.1 (2008). Print.  

Adapted from a reflection written on February 1, 2008.

Tomorrow, praying for the impossible . . . 

 

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Saturday, November 9, 2013

praise[2]Psalm 50

A Sacrifice of Praise

“The problem here is that a dead conscience lies behind the feverish ritual, reeking with sacrificial smoke, on the one side, and, on the other side, ignoring public morality.  People think that ritual wraps its sacred mantle round them to hide the rotten morality of their lives.  Ritual, however, is no alibi for sinning.  The “wicked” addressed in v. 16 should probably be understood as none other than the “people” of v. 6, who are as eager to recite statutes as they are to offer sacrifices, tough without taking to heart the obligations of the covenant . . . It is also possible . . . that the criticism is also directed specifically at them [priests and leaders].  These leaders are afraid to condemn what the people are doing lest they lose their stipends (Deuteronomy 18:8).  They even encourage sin to receive greater sin offerings and so “they feed off the sins of my people” (Hosea 4:8).  Tolerating such deviousness, they give the impression that God is also deaf and blind to the situation.  In concluding the entire psalm, vv. 22-23 echo phrases from the minor conclusion (vv. 14-15) and realistically warn once more against the sin of religious externalism”.  (Mays 413)

We might think about religious externalism, about wrapping ourselves in perfunctory or false ritual.  We might also think about what drives us to engage in artificial ritual.  We might think about our spiritual hunger.

We want to caution ourselves when we are thinking that perhaps God is deaf and blind to our circumstances.  God knows and sees all.  This we must trust.  This we must believe.  When we feel as though our petitions fall on deaf and uncaring ears, we will benefit from standing our sense of loss on its head: perhaps we yearn for God so much . . . perhaps we hunger so much for more of his healing presence in our lives . . . that we feel as though he does not listen . . . is not present . . . does not respond as we might wish.  We might consider that our thirst for God is so great that we believe that God is not listening . . . when in fact he is.  This might mean that our sense of hunger and thirst is not such a bad thing after all.  Consider the words from Psalm 63: O God, you are my God, for you I long; for you my soul is thirsting.  My body pines for you like a dry, weary land without water . . . For your love is better than life, in your name I will lift up my hands . . . On my bed I will remember you.  On you I muse through the night for you have been my help . . .

We long for God.  We feel incomplete here on this plane with only God’s Spirit to accompany us, only God’s Son to walk with us.  We want to feel the full impact of a constant interaction with the Trinity.  For this we hunger.  For this we thirst.  This is praise we are willing to offer to God.  This is praise as sacrifice.

Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. 413. Print.

Adapted from a reflection written on March 26, 2008.

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