Reflection for Friday, July 22, 2022: St. Mary Magdalene.

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Burke-Sullivan, Eileen
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|For nearly a year after my husband's death, I used to visit his grave almost daily – in snow, rain, and warm weather, it was a strangely consoling experience to simply spend a few moments in prayer for him and for all those of my family who have preceded me into death.  I found that it was a good place to pray for the graces I need to live into the death in this world that will serve as a passage to the fullness of the Kingdom, through God's Mercy.|For Catholics, a cemetery with its consecrated ground, gravestones marking the places of human remains and multiple symbols of death and resurrection is an extension of a Church building.  The dead who have gone before us are members of our faith family, still living in Christ through the gift of Baptism. They are witnesses to the Body of Christ. |Today's Feast of Mary Magdalene, Apostle to the Apostles, reminds us of the gift of prayer at a gravesite.  Mary needed consolation in her terrible and immediate grief over the cruel death of her dearest friend.  Like the other Mary's she was concerned that his body be reverently cared for according to Jewish law and custom and the timing of his death had not made that possible.  The group of women friends thus determined to attend to those needs that early Sunday morning. |But at the tomb a stunning surprise awaited her – her worry about the rock in front of the tomb being too heavy to move was suspended as she arrived to see the open grave with no body wrapped in a shroud to be found.  The intensity of her grief over the possible further abuse of Jesus's dignity led her to beg the unrecognized "gardener" to give her his broken body and allow her to properly care for it. |St. Ignatius would challenge us who contemplate this moment in gospel time to establish a "composition of place", that is to see in our heart's eye (through our imagination) the place of the tomb, to notice the coolness or the warmth of the day, to feel the early morning breeze, to smell the mixture of scents of nature (soil, flowers, and greenery) with the scent of a recently placed dead body and to see the early morning light as it transforms from the greyness of pre- dawn to the golden moments of sunrise. |Remember moments of your own grief for the loss of someone you really cared for and feel Mary's piercing anguish.  Then hear the voice of the "gardener" call her name – literally announcing her salvation.|Mary (or Eileen, Sarah, Anne, Janice  . . . your name). |He speaks your name, and you know He is alive.|He speaks Mary's name, my name, your name, and we are alive with new life, with the power to witness to others the Good News of his eternal mercy.|One invitation of today's liturgy is to take time to hear him call your name.  Go to a sacred space for you – a place of memory and hope – and allow Jesus to speak to your heart, to invite you to the labor of apostolic witness for the salvation of all the others we are sent to. Remember that the tomb is a place of hope.  A place not of ghosts and hauntings but a place of call and invitation.  Today, a few years after my husband's death, I visit his grave at Holy Sepulcher Cemetery and see my own gravestone next to his.  I go there both to anticipate the call to the fullness of life and to be close to those who have gone before and wait to welcome me home.  May you find such consolation on this feast of renewed and renewing friendship with God.
University Ministry, Creighton University.
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