April 02, 2013

MISSION MATTERS: Jesus the Gardener

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Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?" She thought it was the gardener...

- John 20:15


In these blessed days after Easter we are invited to continue our celebration of our salvation by a loving God. The readings are filled full of stories of the Risen Lord bringing the Good News that He is raised from the dead and that He is still concerned about us, that He still cares for us. Today, our Gospel story is about Mary Magdalene. She is at the empty tomb of Jesus and she is distraught. She thought people had compounded her profound sorrow of the death of Jesus by taking His body. Jesus appears to her but she does not seem to recognize Him at first; she thinks He is a grounds keeper. For some reason she is unable to recognize Jesus.

Maybe she failed to recognize Jesus because her expectations of how He should look or act clouded her sight. We all can remember a Christmas or birthday gift that was not what we were hoping for or expecting. Our preconceived idea of what we had wished for and what we wanted had built to a point that when something else confronted us, we were disappointed so much that we could not appreciate what we had received. Our assumptions and anticipations had become barriers to the blessings that lay before us.

In the Inuit culture, if someone becomes lost, everyone in the village is mobilized to search for the lost person except for the family of the victim. At first this may seem harsh, but the wisdom of the ages has told them that family members sometimes will fail to see their own family member. They presume that their loved own one will look this way or that way and they tend to overlook the person if they do not look the way they are supposed.

Likewise, most of us have a difficult time being open to God and His blessings if they do not appear to us as we think they should. St. Ignatius in his Examen asks us to pray that we see ourselves, our world and God with the eyes of faith. He reminds us that we all have assumptions and expectations that are not necessarily God's, and that we need to ask God to see things as God sees them.

As we continue to celebrate our loving God in this Paschal Mystery, let us pray that we can honestly take stock of our own assumptions. Let us pray that we may be able to set those aside and begin to see each other, ourselves and God through His eyes. If we can do this, we will find that we enter a new way of looking at each day, at each opportunity, at each other.

We will find God's blessings appearing in all parts and people of our day. Jesus will begin to be present, recognizable in our family, our friends, our roommates, our teachers and all those other ordinary people around us. Like Mary Magdalene, we will have our eyes opened to see God in the gardener, the housekeeper, the janitor, each other, in everyone.

Happy Easter Octave!

D. Highberger, S.J.
P. Stark, S.J.

Higher purpose. Greater good.
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