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Homily: July 22, 2015

Fr. John Denburger, OCSO [1]

16th Wednesday in Ordinary Time
St. Mary Magdalen
Song  3: 1 – 4; Ps: 63; John 20: 1 – 2, 11 – 18

“Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near.” (Is 55: 6) This inspired admonition from Isaiah proclaims the glory, the purpose of our lives in Christ. We are to seek the Lord who desires to be found and to call upon Him who is “Emmanuel” – God among us, always present, always near.

Our seeking of God mirrors His seeking of us – among God’s titles surely is “The Divine Seeker.” We seek God from our poverty, our need, our love. God seeks us from His immense love, His infinite riches, His passion. His and our seeking is mutual and clearly unequal – His is perfect and ours is not.

The first record of God’s seeking is in the Book of Genesis when God sought Adam and Eve hiding because of their sin. Then there is God’s seeking of Abraham, of the people of Israel, of the Prophets, of John the Baptist, of Mary; there is Jesus seeking of Simon Peter and his brother, Andrew, and countless others among whom are we – sought, found, seeking and finding on our own journey of grace.

Today we celebrate the feast day of one of the great seekers of the Lord, a woman freed from evil, seven demons as the Scriptures describes it – Mary Magdalen who stood by the cross with the Blessed Mother. The words of the Song of Songs fits her well: “I sought Him whom my hearts loves…” (Sg 3: 1)

In St. John’s account of the Resurrection, she is the first to arrive at the tomb “early in the morning, while it was still dark,” – to find the stone rolled away and an empty tomb. To say that she was puzzled is an understatement.

There is something in this account which underlines her ardent seeking of the Lord Jesus: she sees two angels sitting there – there is no word that she was amazed, fearful, astonished – she seeks the Lord and has no time, no interest in these heavenly creatures. Her whole focus, desire is taken with the disappearance of the Lord’s body. Her seeking is rewarded – the Risen Jesus calls her by name and she responds.

Our life in Christ – our Baptismal life – our Cistercian life – if it is not a journey of seeking and finding the Lord in a more intimate way – in a friendship, a communion of peace, then it has lost its meaning. St. Benedict puts it this way: “Prefer nothing whatever to Christ.” Jesus proclaimed, “Seek first His kingship over you and all else will be given you besides.” (Matt 6: 33)

The graced seeking and finding of God is a sovereign grace, one that we have been given through God’s largess. What return can we make? To embrace the gift and live it with all our strength.