Bishop Banks' Corner|
|Bishop Robert J. Banks
Where have you seen him today?
Mary Magdalene shows us that seeing the Lord is life-changing
(The following is the prepared text of the homily Bp. Banks gave
at the NCEA Convention in Milwaukee on April 17.)
"Mary Magdalene went to the disciples. 'I have seen the Lord,'
she announced. Then she reported what he had said to her."
It is very fitting that the Gospel for the opening Mass of the
NCEA should always be about Mary Magdalene, a woman, announcing
the good news to Jesus' disciples. Just looking at this
congregation, we know that the pattern established 2,000 years
ago by Jesus is still the pattern for his Church - women
announcing the good news to his disciples. Not that the pattern
is exclusive. Jesus also believed in the importance of diversity
so he also chose men to be his messengers.
I realize that I am on dangerous ground right now, talking about
men and women. It was with more than a bit of trepidation that I
chose the Gospel to preach on today. I have not had the chance to
consult a commentary on this passage by a woman, so I am flying
blind. It probably would have been wiser or safer to preach on
the first reading.
A very human meeting
But I like this Gospel story and I like the fact that Mary
Magdalene had a prominent part in the Easter story. There is
something very human about the meeting of Mary and Jesus.
For instance, those lines about Mary reaching out to touch Jesus,
and his saying, "No." The scholars have a field day exegeting
that exchange between Mary and Jesus. At the risk of being flip,
I am tempted to say it is only a case of Men being from Mars and
Women from Venus. Mary eager to re-establish her relationship of
friendship with Jesus; Jesus with his mind on the business at
But John, the evangelist, is into deeper things than
psychologizing that exchange. He is telling us that it is human
to want Jesus to be present like he always was, but Jesus had a
Jesus the keynote speaker
And isn't it true that we would like it if Jesus were here in
person as the preacher rather than I? Granted Abp. Weakland is a
great speaker, but wouldn't we like to have Jesus as our
keynoter? Then we could surround him after the talk, shake his
hand, the kids could ask for autographs. And maybe there are some
here who would love to ask him to help them walk, or cure their
cancer, or restore to life a loved one. Wouldn't it be great?
And then we could gather around as he got into a car to head to
the airport for his flight back to Jerusalem. And next week, we
could see him as he traveled to another meeting in Africa.
Wouldn't it be great!
Or is it better that Jesus left his Spirit to his Church and to
each of us? So Jesus is present here now, living in us. And Jesus
is here in the Scriptures we read, and even in this poor homily,
and especially when we gather at the table to be nourished by
him. Isn't it better that he is present wherever two or three are
gathered in his name? And present in nursing homes for the
residents as they are wheeled in for Mass, and in the prisons
when the interested inmates come together for Eucharist? And
present to each of us when alone, in silence, we open the
Scriptures and he speaks to us?
More than Mars, Venus
Oh, that exchange was more important than something about Mars
But Mary speaks again in this Gospel. She finally arrives to give
the disciples the message that Jesus entrusted to her. But she
begins with some words of her own, "I have seen the Lord."
Now that could seem like a mere statement of fact - Mary saying
to the disciples, "Relax, fellows, no one stole the body. I have
seen Jesus and he is alive and well."
She is not saying that. She is saying, in effect, " I have seen
the Lord! My life is changed. He is the Lord of my life." She is
saying to the disciples, " And the lives of all of us are
changed. We belong to him and to one another with a bond stronger
She is not saying, "Relax!" She is saying, "Our lives are changed
and we have to get the word out to the whole world." That is
Mary's message, "I have seen the Lord."
Disappeared, not gone
With those words, Mary Magdalene disappears from Scripture. We
hear no more about her in the Acts of the Apostles or the letters
of St. Paul. But she did not disappear from the life of the
Church. For two millennia, her words have announced the
Resurrection to millions all over the earth. Her words ring out
still, "I have seen the Lord."
May that be the message that our lives and ministry bring to
those we serve: "I have seen the Lord."