July 25, 2011

The Magdalene's Pining

Mass last Friday was the great feast of Mary Magdalene and I appreciated anew how she was given the privilege of being the first to see the Risen Christ. It's interesting he would go to her first, as if rewarding her for her great love. I felt a tinge of envy since I wished I loved Him like that! I was also moved by the first reading, from the Song of Songs, even though it was an alternate reading not chosen and so I read it on my own. The great Fr. C was there, as he'd been all week (I could do with having heard more of his sermons). He spoke today about how she was the apostle to the apostles and how we all want to experience God in a completely scientific way when we really have to have a participatory knowledge of God. Faith first.

How well the Song of Songs (3:1-4) passage applies to Mary Magdalene and how even the alternative first reading could be seen to apply (from 2 Cor): "even if we once knew Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know him so no longer." Stop clinging to me, Jesus said, wanting her to know Christ not just in the flesh but in his new creation. A previous pastor once said that you could read "flesh" in St. Paul's writings as "the culture" and so I wonder if sometimes I likewise try to read Jesus according to the flesh, either my culture or his, when he and we are now a new creation.

But how beautiful that Song of Songs passage about leaving her room to look for him, finding a watchman instead and then immediately finding Him. How like that it is to Mary Magdalene's story of leaving to look for him, finding a gardener instead and then seeing Him. Seems like the Byzantines lack this very clever structure coupling of OT/NT readings.

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.

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