Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Woman, Why Are You Weeping?

Exodus 16:1-5; 9-15
The whole Israelite community set out from Elim and came to the Desert of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had come out of Egypt. In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The Israelites said to them, "If only we had died by the LORD's hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death."

Then the LORD said to Moses, "I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions. On the sixth day they are to prepare what they bring in, and that is to be twice as much as they gather on the other days."

Then Moses told Aaron, "Say to the entire Israelite community, 'Come before the LORD, for he has heard your grumbling.' "

While Aaron was speaking to the whole Israelite community, they looked toward the desert, and there was the glory of the LORD appearing in the cloud.

The LORD said to Moses, "I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites. Tell them, 'At twilight you will eat meat, and in the morning you will be filled with bread. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God.' "

That evening quail came and covered the camp, and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. When the dew was gone, thin flakes like frost on the ground appeared on the desert floor. When the Israelites saw it, they said to each other, "What is it?" since they did not know what it was.

Moses said to them, "It is the bread the LORD has given you to eat.”

John 20:1-2; 11-18
Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don't know where they have put him!"

Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus' body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. They asked her, "Woman, why are you crying?" "They have taken my Lord away," she said, "and I don't know where they have put him." At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. "Woman," he said, "why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?" Thinking he was the gardener, she said, "Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him."

Jesus said to her, "Mary." She turned toward him and cried out in Hebrew, "Rabboni!" (which means Teacher). Jesus said, "Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, 'I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.' "

Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: "I have seen the Lord!" And she told them that he had said these things to her.

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In today’s readings, there is a lot of talk about food, and a lot of food for thought.

The Israelites were tired and hungry in the desert, and they began to think that they were better off as slaves in Egypt than as wanderers doomed to die of hunger and thirst in the middle of nowhere. Does it ever cross my mind that yesterday’s troubles might have been better than today’s challenges? Is that an expression of a lack of trust in the Lord? Or is a lack of confidence in my own ability to cooperate with the Lord’s grace?

In the desert, the Lord provided quail and manna as sustenance for his people. But only one day at a time. Once again, the Lord is challenging them to trust that, just as he was there yesterday, he will still be there tomorrow, to provide for their needs and to guide them to the land of promise.

On Wednesday in the middle of the 16th week of Ordinary Time, we have an extraordinary gospel: the Magdalene woman’s discovery of the empty tomb, and her encounter with the former occupant of that burial place, now risen from the dead. Imagine what was going on in her mind, until He speaks, and she comes to realize that he has not left her, but is present in a different manner.

“Don’t hold on to me!” the risen Lord says to Magdalene. He asks her to let go of the ways in which she had know him in the past, up to the time she stood with his mother at the foot of the cross. How many times have I had to do that in my life. “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, and thought like a child, and acted like a child”, wrote Paul, whose conversion experience was quite different from Magdalene’s. How often do we get challenged to set aside our comfortable notions about the Lord in order to accept new challenges that call for a fuller and deeper relationship with the Lord?

Blessed Lord, help us to perceive, and to receive the ways you will come to us today. Help us to move beyond what our past experiences have led us to, and let us come to you now in faith, in hope, in trust that you will feed us, and comfort us, and guide us in our present and our future commitments.

Adapted from a Daily Scripture Refection by Ruth Iliff, of St. Monica Parish, Indianapolis, Indiana.

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