Our Tears


25 March 2008 Tuesday in the Octave of Easter
John 20, 11-18 Our Tears

John takes the stand today with one of his stories about the Resurrection. Mary Magdalene was weeping at the tomb. She saw two angels who asked her why she was crying. She said that some people has taken the body of Jesus somewhere else. Jesus appeared to her, but she thought He was the gardener, until Jesus called out her name. She was then instructed to tell the disciples what she saw.

The story mirrors a basic human experience: our tears prevent us from seeing the Lord. When we are in deep sorrow, we feel that nothing has meaning. The beauty of our world means nothing. When we grieve, we sense that nothing more is left. No person or thing can give us consolation. Our tears can cripple us from seeing hope.

Not that this experience is bad: often, this grieving stage is necessary. We have to go into the very depths and pains of these heartaches in order for us to be able to move on. I realized this later in my life. When I was younger, I thought that I have to fix any uncomfortable feeling right away. I used to justify loneliness so that I would not shed a lot of tears. Or, I would tell myself that there is always reason why I am experiencing this failure. When I entered the Jesuits, my novice master would always give this advice whenever I felt bad about a hurtful comment, a rejection, a failure, a bout of loneliness, or the death of my father: “Stay with the feeling!” Cry until all the tears have been shed. Shout until all the anger has been pacified. Just stay, acknowledge and taste the unpleasant feelings.

Unless we pass this stage, it would be difficult for us to make our experience of limitation into a moment of grace. Unless all the tears have been wiped from our eyes, we wouldn’t see clearly. In the stage of grief, it is not timely to give an advice or an explanation. In the moment of deep grief, what one needs is the comfort in an embrace, or perhaps, a gesture of sympathy. When wounds are still fresh, we do not need words. We need to give ourselves time.

We have seen many stories of people who lived through their tears, and finally has recognized Christ. We know of many men and women whose marriages failed, and tried to take care of their children and lived their lives as best as they could. Soon, they find strength and peace in their lives. We know of many people who have arisen from addictions that crippled them, and now have been freed from them. Many have even rediscovered God’s love and now views the world differently. These are the people who have seen the Lord. Once you meet them, you somehow wonder where they get their smiles. These are the people whose lives were broken, but soon found courage to pick up the pieces and gather themselves again. To me, this is what made Mary recognized Jesus: Jesus called out her name. A rediscovery of a God who knows and love us personally and uniquely gathers us and makes us whole. A new creation is a grace of Easter!

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