Mary Magdalene and Jesus – it was all wrong.

Appearance of Christ to Mary MagdaleneWell we’ve reached that time of year again where the Christian hating media feels compelled to acknowledge Easter but doesn’t want to; so they find an angle which hints at academic interest but which really intends to knock the faith. Of course there is the yawningly awful annual Jesus/Magdalene affair/marriage story. I guess the fact that Jesus rose from the dead isn’t sensationalist enough?! Better throw a bit of forbidden romance in there to keep everyone interested right?

Well I’ve been thinking about this very deeply recently and have unwittingly unearthed a rather uncomfortable truth about my own relationship with Jesus.

Me and Maggers have the same problem – we are both obsessed with Jesus to the point where we both want to posses Him. We are clingy. This aspect of the relationship is all wrong.

In John 20:17 Mary encounters the risen Jesus for the first time: “Jesus said to her, ‘Do not touch me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father…'” The word translated “touch” is a Greek word which means “to cling to, to lay hold of.” This wasn’t just a touch; it was a grip. She was literally clinging onto him. If Jesus was the rock, Maggers was the barnacle. There was no way anyone was gonna pries her off!

I have to say I would have done exactly the same thing. Mary desperately clings on to the love of her life whom  – only a few days earlier was crucified right in front of her. She was ecstatic her Lord had returned. She was terrified of losing Him again. She wasn’t gonna let go – no way!

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A barnacle.

But you see, as with all possessive relationships, it was centering around the one doing the possessing. In effect, Maggers wanted to keep Him under her control. She wanted the relationship to be on her terms.

Ouch. How many of us are doing that in our relationships with God? Quite a few of us right? I have been. Just like Maggers, I have basically been using God as a comfort blanket. And there was no freaking way I was ever gonna let that false notion of God go! No sir! I was comfortable.

We do it all the time. In prayer, in the liturgy, in our relationships with other people. We want to be in charge. We want to posses God. We want to posses Him because He is beautiful and wonderful and He is love. We want to posses Him because we are afraid of letting Him be in charge. It comes down to our lack of trust.

Maggers relationship with Jesus was all wrong. What she didn’t realise of course was that clinging onto Jesus would actually prevent their relationship from becoming even deeper. When He told her to let Him go, it was because He wanted to be with her in an entirely new, closer and more personal way than He had been before.

You see, the relationship that Jesus wanted with Mary Magdalene – the relationship He wants with you and me – is like no other relationship that is possible with another human being. Jesus has instructed us to eat His flesh and drink His blood (John 6:53).

What sort of a relationship is this?!

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The closest relationships I have in my own life are with my husband and children. Obviously I have a sexual relationship with my husband in which I let him into my body. And obviously my children have also been within my body as they grew in my womb. But Jesus is offering me something quite different here:

He wants to physically dwell within me – His creation – on a permanent basis. This is of course a sort of foretaste of heaven – but He desires for that relationship to begin now – here on earth. He desires to be so ultimately close to me that he wishes to be physically absorbed into my cells and float around in my blood stream. He wishes to penetrate my soul and literally posses every part of my being. He must posses me! Not the other way round! It has to be this way round because He is the creator and I am the created.

I believe that so many of us get this aspect of the relationship wrong. So many of us are having a relationship with Christ based on our terms – just like Mary Magdalene did.

It’s so sad that the Christian hating media simply cannot fathom that relationships can exist without some sort of sexual aspect. They will just never understand that there is a deeper relationship available here – much, much deeper and more intense than a sexual one. But for them to understand that, they would have to understand Christ, and the Mass, and Love. And sadly, they clearly have no idea about any of those things.

 

2 Priests denied joint gym membership, because they are not “In a relationship”!

Do you even lift

I was talking to one of my online priest friends today. He is so funny – he is always cracking me up and I love him TO DEATH! (Of course I would never tell him that as he already suffers from chronic ego-itis 😉 )

He was telling me the story of how he went to sign up for the Gym in full cassock and dog collar but was denied joint membership with his parish priest because they were not “in a relationship”…

“How do you know we are not in a relationship?” he said. “We live together, we work together, we eat dinner together, heck – sometimes we even just chat, for fun.”

The poor receptionist was a little bemused: “But you’re a… a… a priest??!” 

“Yes, and what’s that got to do with it? How does one define what a ‘relationship’ is? Do you have the authority to tell me I am not in a relationship with my parish priest?”

“Are you a couple?”

“Errr… no. But we live together!”

“I’m sorry, the joint membership is only for couples.”

“What if we were gay? Would that be enough to get a joint gym membership?”

“Errr…. Yes! Are you gay?”

“No. But we do live together.”

“I’m sorry I don’t understand what you….”

“You know I could sue you for this under the discrimination act don’t you? What would Peter Tatchel say hey? Not much equality in this place is there? 😉 “

“To be eligible for the joint membership you have to be in a relationship sir.”

“What if I said we were a couple living together in a non-sexual relataionship? Would you give us joint membership then? We could get ‘married’ if that would help?”

“Errr… Yes? I mean no. I don’t know. All I know is that you have to be a couple sir.”

He left it at that, stopped teasing the poor receptionist and begrudgingly signed up for a significantly more expensive single persons membership!

You’d be forgiven for thinking that this was satire – but its not! It’s a true story! Ha!

Father Dylan’s Sermons – 3rd Sunday of Advent, Year B

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Jn 1:6-8,19-28; 1 Thess 5:16-24

If you were given the opportunity to stand before the European Parliament and tell them what you thought was wrong the modern world, and, more particularly, what you thought was wrong with Europe, what would you say?
Two weeks ago Pope Francis addressed the European Parliament and told them what he thought. Many people were surprised at what he said. I, too, was rather surprised when I read his diagnosis.

As we all know, Pope Francis has spoken much about poverty. He has also spoken a lot about evangelisation. However, when he spoke to parliament the issue he focussed on was LONELINESS. He said that Europeans have forgotten that they are “beings in relationship”, instead, they think of themselves as primarily being individuals. And, unsurprisingly, we have created a society of isolated, lonely, individuals. And he attributed the neglect of the poor, the neglect of the elderly, etc, to all be symptoms of this more general social problem.

We are all lonely. And a great many people have sensed the truth of his words, because you can be lonely when you’re alone, but you can also be lonely in a marriage, and lonely in a house full of people. You can be lonely in a crowd.

Pope Francis attributes this to something even deeper, namely, to the fact that modern Europe has forgotten God. We have forgotten the One who is our Father, the one in whose image we are all made, and so it is hardly surprising that we have forgotten the deep identity that binds us all together as a family, that makes us –“beings in relationship” (as he put it). We ARE “beings in relationship”, we ARE all made by the same one Lord, but we live in a world that does not SEE it.

On a different note, in the Gospel today we heard about something else that was not seen, was not recognised, namely, John the Baptist told the people that there stood among them, “unknown to” them (Jn 1:26), the One they were waiting for. The Church gives us this text today to give us a reason to “rejoice” as our entrance antiphon and second reading put it (1 Thess 5:16): rejoice because, even while we wait for His Christmas coming, He is already present among us.
Holy Mother Church knows that the preparations for Christmas can be an ordeal in themselves; she knows that we need to be reminded of a reason to “rejoice” –and the reason we are given today is that He who we long for is already with us.

Let me draw this to a conclusion by tying those two thoughts together:
I can live the final couple weeks before Christmas in a lonely isolated state, even if I am in the midst of people, full of nothing but pre-Christmas busy-ness. Or, I can recall the presence of the Lord. I can recall that every Christmas card is being written to a person made in His image. I can recall that every present bought is for a person that God wants to relate to as their Father. I can remind myself that every person I am tempted to PUSH and shove past in a queue is actually someone who is called to be part of the same spiritual family that I claim to belong to.
And if I do that, then I will have less of that sense of loneliness that the Pope speaks of, and I will cause less of that loneliness in others, and I will “rejoice” in the presence of the One who “stands among you, unknown to you” (Jn 1:26).

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