Friday, July 22, 2016

I wish you were more like....

One of the worst mistakes we can do in a serious relationship is to compare the one we love with the past.  "I wish you were more like your (brother/father/mother/sister/cousin)...."    "When we were dating you would..."   "All you ever want to do is sleep, when I first met you we always..."  It's even worse if you compare a spouse or girlfriend/boyfriend to someone you used to be in a relationship with!  It demeans.  It tears down.  It hurts.  It's a failure to encounter that person in the here and the now and a grave mistake indeed.

C.S. Lewis in his journal titled "A Grief Observed" wrote of an encounter with a person from his past.   After his wife's death he had become somewhat of a social recluse and an old friend called on him.   He was excited at the prospect of seeing him after all these years.   After a few hours with the fellow he found that his memory of him was not quite the person he really was.  In fact, after seeing some of the ticks and quirks of the persons personality he realized that he did indeed remember that person after all... but his memory tended to leave out details.. to tailor itself to Lewis's own likes and dislikes.   It was an astounding moment when he realized that his wife was more now than any memory that he could have of her.   He was failing to encounter her in the now, and instead remembering her in the past.   Even though she had died, she was still with him in ways that were even more complete and astounding.

“All reality is iconoclastic[..]The earthly beloved, even in this life, incessantly triumphs over your mere idea of her. And you want her to; you want her with all her resistances, all her faults, all her unexpectedness.... And this, not an image or memory, is what we are to love still, after she is dead.” - C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed 

I think that when Mary Magdalene went to the tomb she was doing much the same by living in the past.  That's part of grief after all.   The Resurrection that Jesus had spoken of so often was simply a thing she had relegated to the future.   Even the vision of the angels speaking to her from inside the tomb did not bring her out of her funk.  The Master himself stood behind her and he failed to recognize him.  She was looking for an image of the man, one she had in her mind... but the real Jesus was right there before her eyes.   It took her hearing her name called by God himself to recognize him.   It took an encounter with God, with Christ in His resurrected form to jar her out of herself, out of her own thoughts.. and into the present.

CCC 2158 God calls each one by name. Everyone's name is sacred. The name is the icon of the person. It demands respect as a sign of the dignity of the one who bears it.

We as fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, friends and acquaintances must encounter Christ in the present.   To take time to look for him and listen for his voice to speak to us from the mouths of others.  As a parent I know just how difficult this can be.   To look for the image not only in the stranger but in those you live with every day.   This is the only way we can meet them exactly where they are and as who they are in order to journey with them through this life.   It takes stopping to listen for Christ to speak our name through the mouth of those created in His image.  Are we taking time to do this?

P.S.   Father Don Ahles' homily this morning touched on something that we should take note of, especially in light of what I wrote above.   Pope Francis has taken the memorial of Saint Mary Magdalene and turned it into a Feast.  That means that everywhere around the world it must be celebrated by Catholics.    He wants us to sit up and take notice of who Mary Magdalene really is, not who history has attempted to portray her as.  A grave error has been done to her image in that she has been confused with other women in the bible.  She was a wealthy woman who traveled with Jesus and helped support his ministry.  The Eastern Church calls her the Apostle to the Apostles.  She was not the prostitute but rather the woman who was delivered from seven spirits.  She then was sent to tell the Apostles themselves the good news.  We should take note of that too and realize that sometimes our image of her is clouded too and we need to encounter who she truly was that we may encounter who Christ is and what His message is to us.

His servant and yours,

"He must increase, I must decrease."

A reflections on the Mass readings for the Feast of Saint Mary Magdalene: July 22, 2016.   Song of Songs 3:1-4; Psalm 63; The Holy Gospel According to Saint John 20:1-2, 11-18