“Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father.” (John 20:17)
Jesus was on His way to the Father when He suddenly felt a tug in His heart. It was Mary Magdalene looking for him, weeping.
“They have taken my Lord, and I don’t know where they laid him.” (v.13)
As her tears fell to the ground, her hemorrhaging heart pulled the tassel of his cloak and held him back. The sound of her cry pierced through eternity and compelled Him to stay for a moment in time.
“Woman, why are you weeping?”(v.15)
Her eyes, blinded by grief, could not see Him, could not recognize. At the sound of his voice, the veil lifted, wiping away her tears. When she heard her name, recognition came.
“I found him whom my soul loves. I held him and would not let him go.” (Song of Songs 3:4)
But He still had other plans, which she did not need to understand.
“Stop holding on to me.” (John 20:17)
Let go. …but why? Why would Jesus ask her to let Him go?
“I have not yet ascended to the Father.” (v.17)
Mary is stuck in her grief. She is holding on, not to the hope of what is to come, but to the pain of what is gone. Yet, in her pain, Mary cries out.
“The righteous cry out, the LORD hears, and he rescues them from all their afflictions.” (Psalm 34:18)
Just like He delivered her before from seven demons, he now frees her from the claws of death.
“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:55)
Her love is transformed the moment she lets go.
“Go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” (John 20:17)
It is when she is willing to let go and trust that she is free to live. And from that place of freedom, she can then accept her mission.
“I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10)
How many times are we stuck in grief, holding on to the past? The rug gets pulled from under our feet, and we fall; we do not know which way to go. Our plans are no more. We close our eyes to the possibilities that God has something better in store for us.
We will suffer in this life, but we are not meant to stay stuck in grief. Every moment of life is transformed through the Cross of Our Lord. The Paschal Mystery is always in movement, from the Passion, through the Death, into the Resurrection and Ascension. It is in this continual offering of Jesus to the Father that we are meant to live. Through Him, with Him and in Him, caught in the embrace of love, we go from mourning to dancing, from grief to joy.
When we find ourselves in darkness, let us never tire of crying out to God, for He will leave the ninety-nine and come running back for us. Jesus will tell the Father in Heaven, “Give me a moment, for I hear my beloved looking for me, and my heart is moved with love.”
My friends, this is Divine Mercy; this is Divine Love. Trust in Him and seek Him; you will always find Him ready to embrace you and welcome you home.
By: Rick Hernandez
Holy Saturday, the long silence. As we wait patiently for the rising of Our Lord on Easter, let us take this time to ponder on the meaning of the Passion and Death of Christ. We look up to the Heavens through the eyes of faith, and in our hearts, we can inscribe the words:
“No one has a greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13).
Jesus laid down His most precious life because of LOVE. For us and for our salvation, He conquered death, and all of this happened because He accepted His Cross. What does that mean for us? What are we to learn from His lesson?
“Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me; still, not my will but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42)
Here, our Lord is asking to be released from the Passion's suffering but accepts it out of His love for God the Father. He surrenders His will to accept the Father’s will.
We, as humans, often shy away from suffering; we avoid pain. Yet to suffer is unavoidable. It is the reality of this fallen life. We will encounter suffering, be it ourselves or via our loved ones.
So many of our hearts are deeply hurt these days. We can barely keep up with the battering from the world, so we close our hearts. Society tries to teach us to be selfish. Media bombards us with the message that it is all about us, that we are meant to have an easy life, that we should not have to suffer.
Because of this, love has lost its real meaning.
Jesus on the Cross is the ultimate form of intercessory prayer, the ultimate form of love. His physical life was a living prayer. His suffering and death, in love, are the offering to the Father to atone for our sins. Jesus was not afraid of pain and suffering; He knew that to love freely meant to be able to lay His life if necessary. Such is still our call today.
With His example, Jesus tells us that we do not have to like suffering or want it. Still, we have to be willing to accept it, especially when it is because of our love for others. God's love for us is free, as in freely given. It is unbound.
Free love is not painless love. Free love is not selfish love; it is neither conditional nor temporal. If we are going to be able to love freely, we have to be willing to suffer. Our hurt hearts can know real love, but we have to be willing to be vulnerable.
If you are not willing to suffer disappointment or pain, you cannot love freely.
To love is not without consequences on this Earth. Love can be, for us, a little Passion. We know from Christ’s example that when suffering comes, it is an opportunity to make an offering to our Lord. The surrendering of our will to His will, as an act of love, then becomes an intercessory prayer.
It is in this renouncing of self for the good of others that our experience becomes a little like Christ’s on the Cross. “No greater LOVE...”.
"Bear one another’s burdens, and so you will fulfill the law of Christ" (Galatians 6:2)
Today, let us think not only about physical death. Today let us embrace self-denial, humility, and empathy. Let us be willing to suffer discomfort for the ones in need. We are meant to carry each other’s burdens. Would it not be love if we go out of our comfort zone to help turn around a life? What are we willing to give up for our love of others?
To love fully, we must be willing to suffer. Like Our Lord, are we willing?
Love one another as I have loved you.
May you have a Happy and Blessed Easter!
By: Laura Catherine Worhacz
Hosanna, hosanna in the highest!
Every Holy Week, it has been a tradition for my family to watch The Passion of the Christ. One of my favorite portrayals in the film is the flashbacks.
When Jesus is in His Passion, He thinks of running into His mother's arms. When He thinks of His love for us, He thinks of Holy Thursday and leaving us His life in the Eucharist. Saint Mary remembers being saved from being stoned and recalls the hand of God reaching down to her to lift her to the Cross.
How blessed we are to enter Holy Week and celebrate another Palm Sunday tomorrow. What about us? Where do our flashbacks take us?
In the silence, we can go there... Sometimes the places we are taken to are quite painful; sometimes, we recall graces embedded in our hearts that take us to the mystical. All of which create us in the divine plan and help us see God's love in all things.
To identify with all the experiences of life is healing for our souls. We find peace in the acceptance of our lives. We need grace to see the work of God in our lives. The Sacrament of Reconciliation sets fire to our longing to give in return for God's love for us.
What about flashing back to our first encounter with the Eucharist, to the moment we were given the grace to know Jesus in the mystery of the Sacred Host? How did our hearts burn with a desire to be with Jesus? How we longed to be in the presence of the living God.
Holy week is a time to be made holy; there is time for us to grow while still on this earth. On Holy Thursday, we are to remember how Jesus washed the disciple's feet and offered the first Eucharist: "Do this in Memory of ME." On Good Friday, we venerate the Cross and think of the divine person, Jesus Christ, dying for each of us so personally. On Holy Saturday, we wait in preparation for the Easter Vigil when the Resurrection from the dead is revealed to us.
The Sacred Triduum, the mystery of salvation, invites us to live in the Passion, Death, and Rising of Christ. Saint Joseph lived this mystery in intimacy with God. All that was revealed to him Saint Joseph kept sacred. Indeed, he reminisced often, flashbacked to the dreams he had, thought of the terror he fled from and protected his faith in Christ.
May this Holy week bring our lives to the Praise and Glory of Our Father who art in Heaven. Lord help us to be guardians of the Eucharist.
By: Ivonne J. Hernandez
“Saint Joseph is the patron and model of interior souls; his life has been spent in obscurity, the Scripture does not mention any of his words. We have to imitate him, to love the silence and seclusion, to maintain within us the fire, whose flames will then show and illuminate all our actions.” – St. Peter Julian Eymard
“We have to love the silence.” So, what is silence? The dictionary defines it as “complete absence of sound,” “stillness.” It comes from the Latin silentium/sileo, which denotes a state of being, “I am silent.” I find this interesting because it immediately brings to mind the words from Psalm 46:
“Be still and know that I am God!” (Psalm v.11)
God, the great I AM, tells us that we have to be still for us to know who HE IS. We have to BE silent. We have to empty ourselves from all sound so that His Word can enter in.
“For when peaceful stillness encompassed everything and the night in its swift course was half spent, Your all-powerful word from heaven’s royal throne leapt into the doomed land” (Wisdom 18:14-15).
Think about the moment before a masterful orchestra begins to play; there is silence. No one dares speak a word; no one dares to cough. Any sound would ruin the moment. The emptiness of sound makes room for the beauty that is about to fill it.
“Aspire to the spiritual repose of recollection at the feet of your good Master; the silence of love is perfect love.” – St. Peter Julian Eymard
Expectation, our capacity to receive, grows in the silence. Many of us have experienced the sublimeness of being lost in the eyes of our beloved. In that moment of silence, we hear the sound of two hearts speaking.
It is the same in our relationship with God. He is our beloved; we are His beloved. All He wants is for us to get lost in His gaze. It is at those moments, though, when the enemy of our souls will ramp up the storm.
The moment we try to BE silent, a million distractions usually jump at us. It is then the unclean spirits will whisper lies and tell us we must hide from our God. It is at that moment that we need to make a choice.
If we truly want to BE with God, then we let Jesus take care of the distractions. If we let Him, He will silence the unclean spirit and will quiet down the storm.
“Do not fear! Stand your ground and see the victory the LORD will win for you today. For these Egyptians whom you see today you will never see again. The LORD will fight for you; you have only to keep still.” (Exodus 14:13-14)
A friend, who is studying to become a priest, wrote to me earlier today. He had just finished an hour of Eucharistic Adoration, and he wrote: “Not every silence produces the same sound. He was silent but effective. Wishing you a Happy Feast of St. Joseph. May our man of honor continue to intercede for us.”
After I read his message, I couldn’t tell if he was speaking of the silence of Jesus in the Eucharist or the silence of St. Joseph. And then I realized there was no difference; they are both the same silence.
No wonder St. Joseph was so silent; in his house, there were no unclean spirits; in his house, there were no storms. There was no need to rebuke, for his house was full of love. “The silence of love is perfect love.”
“I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.”
Jesus brings His peace; He brings His love. He tells us to BE still, to listen only to His voice. God wants to BE with us, to BE in us, to become one with us. He speaks most eloquently from the silence of the Cross.
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We are Ivonne J. Hernandez, Rick Hernandez and Laura Worhacz, Lay Associates of the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament, and brothers and sisters in Christ.
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