(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Monday morning, 24 April 2017)
Good morning, ladies and gentlemen! Welcome back to La Salle! Happy Easter!
Let us remember that we are in the holy presence of God.
The Gospel readings for last week, Easter Week, are, in my eyes, among some of the most touching readings of the year. Each of them tells the story of newfound joy on the heels of desolation and despair. I am particularly fond of the Gospel reading from last Tuesday’s Mass that recounts how, early in the morning before the dawn of the first day of the week, while still dark, a woman comes to the tomb of Jesus, sees the tomb empty, and stands there weeping—her sadness even more intense as she fears that the body of Jesus had been taken, robbing her not only of his life but also of his remains. The woman is Mary Magdalene, a faithful follower of Jesus, a disciple who remained at the foot of the cross as he died, a person who loved him deeply. And, it seems reasonable, that Jesus had cared for and loved her deeply in return.
Picture the scene and try to imagine how she felt. I go back in time and re-live my mother’s death, wake, funeral, and burial—the deep grief and pain of being with a loved one and seeing her pass from life to death; and, then, experiencing the finality of the coffin being closed and later being lowered into the ground. Like Mary Magdalene, I wept also.
But, the Gospel continues. Mary turns from the tomb and sees a man in the garden—still in the dim gray of the early morning before sunrise. She presumes he is the gardener or the keeper of the graves. The man speaks: “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” She turns to him and pleads that, if he has taken the body, he let her know where it was so that she might take care of it. His response is simply: “Mary.” And she recognizes him as the one for whom she is grieving, Jesus. Reaching out to touch him, Mary is told by him: “Do not cling to me. I must go to my Father.”
Do not cling to me. How natural it is to want to hold onto what we love, what we treasure, what gives us comfort, what gives us strength and support. Don’t cling to me. I didn’t want to let go of my mother and see her die. Young babies, like my grand nieces and nephews, don’t want to let go of their moms or dads. Parents don’t want to let go of their adolescent children as they grow up. Friends don’t want to let go of or to lose friends, as will happen with you Seniors in a little bit more than a month. We all want to hold on—we say, “hold on for dear life”—hold onto our “security blanket.”
Jesus, however, is teaching us a valuable life lesson—it is the lesson of spring, of resurrection, of new life. There is always new life trying to emerge in each of us, trying to bloom and to break out of the cold frozen earth. All too often we ignore the signs of resurrection, we are blind to the risen Jesus because we are looking for him in all the wrong places—and we cling to parts of life that have died for us. We cling to an old relationship and fail to see the new one emerging; we cling to an old hurt and fail to see new life growing out of that hurt.
Do I, do we have the faith and the courage today to open our eyes and really look for the risen Jesus in the many surprising ways He might appear to us—in the kind word of a teacher, in the “Hello” of someone I barely know, in the forgiving glance of a friend with whom things have been tense? And do I, do we have the faith and the courage today to let go of things in our lives that no longer have life or give life, things that sap life from us—like a dead-end relationship, like self-destructive behaviors, like a dashed hope (maybe a college rejection)—will I, will we let them go so that new life can emerge or will we cling to them?
Let us pray: Lord, your resurrection gives us hope—hope that light overcomes darkness, courage overcomes fear, faith overcomes doubt, love overcomes hate, life overcomes death. Help us to be surprised by your presence in our lives and to choose not to cling to what no longer gives life. Amen. Alleluia!!
Saint John Baptist de La Salle…Pray for us.
Live, Jesus, in our hearts…Forever.
Brother Frederick Mueller, FSC