In the dark of the night, I search for you, Lord, after your death.
At the edge of the grave, I see you, Lord, marked with wounds.
In the midst of the garden, I see you, Lord, shaped by life.
And you meet me.
You give light to my night.
You lift the stone from my grave.
You open the door into your garden. And by the tree of life, I find you.
After a time of reflection with signs of concrete conversion, we approach the Easter celebration. This raises the question: How can the overwhelming message of the Resurrection become a reality beyond liturgical celebrations, penetrate our lives and inspire our preparations for the General Chapter? Perhaps a woman who is intimately linked to the mystery of the Resurrection can help us. Her name is Mary Magdalene. She appears several times in the Gospels, and again and again her path is marked by intense search, great passion and unbroken faithfulness. She understands that she cannot remain in the past and hold on to it. Therefore, invited by Jesus, she opens herself to the unbelievably new. She, who was once a marginalized person, becomes a disciple at the side of the well-known rabbi. The one who experienced the pain of Christ’s suffering, is now in tears at his grave and soon becomes the apostle to the apostles. Let us take a little time to watch and listen to her. She can help us into life, into the Resurrection - personally and as a Congregation.
Let us connect the path of discovery and maturation of Mary Magdalene with our transformation to an ever-deeper charism of fullness at the side of Christ, with his people and in his world.
Mary's life has many turning points, and the evangelist John tells us about two of them in his narrative of Easter morning. Mary turns away from the tomb and death, and, when Jesus speaks to her, she turns to HIM. Turning away and turning towards Him, she becomes a herald with the entrusted message of the Resurrection. What prepared her for this encounter with Christ?
Mary was healed of 7 demons and decided to follow and serve Jesus (Luke 8:1-3). Her way leads her as a faithful disciple to the cross and the grave. Here she stands now. She let her tears run freely. She faces the darkness of the grave. She expresses what weighs on her. These are concrete steps of overcoming grief. They are necessary so that new life can become a reality. Allowing, standing up and speaking out, these are behaviors that every person and we as Congregation experience on our path of transformation. In order to open ourselves to vital possibilities we never before dreamed of, it is necessary to leave former dreams and plans behind, to live relationships anew, to let new perspectives arise and to develop new visions for the future.
Mary Magdalene opens herself to this process in the darkness of Easter morning. She still knows nothing of the incomprehensible message that she will experience and that will be entrusted to her. Called upon, she turns around and a surprisingly new perspective on life is given to her. In dialogue with the Risen One, her relationship with the dead, crucified Jesus is transformed into a life communion with the living Christ. Mary and Jesus recognize each other when they are called by name: Mary - Rabbi. She came to hold on to and venerate at least what she had left of HIM. But God had another plan for her…to turn away from the grave, to let go of the old image of Jesus and to accept the living present. The fixation on the past did not allow Mary to recognize Jesus at first. She had to go through the birth pangs of tears, grief and incomprehension. With the familiar call “MARY,” she feels his presence and loves to name him RABBI. But it did not remain the same relationship with the former pupil and master. Looking up is transformed into an encounter at eye level. Mary becomes the envoy, an apostle, who from that moment on, and officially by Pope Francis since 2016, is equal to the other apostles.
Mary encourages us on our way of transformation, to a fulfilled life with God, in service of his people and world. Let us be open to change through mourning, to face the often-painful reality of our world, Church and Congregation in speaking out truth. With these steps, we open ourselves to HIM, to new life perspectives and to faith in the Resurrection, which will carry us in this time and beyond.