Memorial of Saint Mary Magdalene
Micah 7:14-15, 18-20
John 20:1-2, 11-18
Today marks the 51st anniversary for five of my classmates and I professing our vows to live religious life through the charism of St. Paul of the Cross. On one level these actions taken by the six of us at the ages of 19 and 20, in 1963, appear to be minuscule in the economy of life’s realities. Upon which of the world’s theaters of violence and the loss of life must we ponder today? But who are we to say which actions are minuscule or insignificant? Is there or is there not, a new creation in our midst, "see, everything has become new!" (2 Cor. 5:17)
The Word has Mary Magdalene standing outside the opened tomb of God’s dead body, only to weep the more in utter confusion "not knowing where they had laid him." The Word from the Song of Songs has us harken back to the bride "seeking whom her soul loves." She cannot find him…"I sought him, but found him not ; I called him, but he gave no answer." the bride searches, "I will seek him whom my soul loves." If the Lover is for real, that Person will find us.
Speaking only for myself, I have found that the Passionist way of life, with the determinants of the four vows,(chastity, poverty, obedience, and, to promote devotion to the Passion and Death of our Lord Jesus Christ) has lead me in countless ways and in countless times through situations of apparent loss, whether it has been a talent which just didn’t come forth at the right time, a situation that has presented no immediate solutions or quick fixes, or a reality to be faced that will take more time and patience than I believe I have. These are all situations beyond my grasp. And yet, Jesus says directly to Mary, "do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father." But he does not hold her back from going and declaring to the fearful disciples that she had seen Him alive.
So, too, we must not hold back from continuing to announce life and hope in the very situations where there is "apparently" none. Our daily actions of mercy, sacrifice, and other-centered ness reveal the new creation that is revealed in its own time and manner through the Plans which the Father and Son reveal. It is up to me to pursue the situations in my own reality with hope, and allowing God to continue to speak to us each in our own intimate way.
Fr. Alex Steinmiller, C.P. is president of Holy Family Cristo Rey Catholic High School, Birmingham, Alabama.