MagdaUpon my bed at night I sought him whom my soul loves; I sought him, but found him not… when I found him whom my soul loves. I held him, and would not let him go…
…Jesus said to her, ‘Do not hold on to me


THERE IS a deep intensity about the love poem or collection of love poems we know from the Hebrew Bible as The Song of Solomon. So much so that the ‘wisest of sages’ Rabbi Akiba said at the turn of the second century AD, “All the (biblical) Writings are holy, but the Song of Songs is the Holy of Holies.” It is traditionally read during a high point of the Passover festival. For many, the poetry is allegory for the covenant relationship between God’s ‘chosen people’ and God. In Christianity it is often Interpreted between the Church and Christ, sometimes Mother Mary and God. In our extract this morning, the bride is searching hard for her bridegroom and we can perhaps relate it to Mary Magdalene searching for Jesus’ body in the tomb and the garden.
Within the intensity of the search, in the poem and in the Gospel extract, there is a possessiveness, a desire to find what is rightfully ‘hers’ and to take it to some primal sanctuary where ‘she’ can somehow take care of it. When Mary exclaims “Rabbouni!” in the garden, her Aramaic tongue is actually saying not just “Master!” but “My Master!” And Jesus’ response? “Don’t hold onto me”, literally “Don’t cling to me”. He goes on, “I have not yet ascended to Abba”, the parenting One, the I AM, to that which is Real. Don’t hold on, don’t cling, I must fully become what I AM.
I AM is the being or essence of all that is real, Absolute Love. Love is freely given but it cannot be possessed. It is found when the frantic searching ceases, when the sentinels of reason have been passed in the streets of our conscious thoughts. Only then can we find that this Love has been there all the time and it will never be gone. Letting go is to receive it in its fullness and so become whom we really already are.
Christ – we can’t possess Christ – the Church does not possess Christ or contain Christ. Our creeds and theology are responses to Christ but nothing more than that, they do not delineate Christ or limit Christ. Christ is not limited to the historical Jesus of Nazareth either. Jesus lived 2000 years ago and then only for 30 or 40 years. Christ was in the beginning, Alpha and Omega, eternal, cosmic, not limited by time and space, expressed in the cosmic, timeless dance that is the Holy Trinity, F, S and HS.
Mary Magdalene’s story holds a mirror to us, in which we can see our lives, our relationships and our pilgrimage through this physical, material world, with Christ, with the unconditional Love of God.
Toward the end of the early Christian writing known now as the Gospel of Mary Magdalene, hidden for most of Christian history because the Roman church banned it in 4th Century, after Mary has talked to the disciples about her ‘visions’ of the risen Christ, “Peter said to Mary: ‘Sister, we know that the Master loved you differently from other women. Tell us whatever you remember of any words he told you which we have not yet heard.’ Mary said to them: ‘I will now speak to you of that which has not been given to you to hear.” Mary describes then how Christ appeared to her in a vision, and taught her mystical awareness, contemplative prayer, an opening of the veil between what seems and what is, about the ‘nous’, where soul and spirit merge. Meister Ekhart tells us that nous the “Openness that reaches to the depth of being, where the uncreated in humanity is One with the uncreated in God.” In other words, Jesus taught Mary absolute Communion.
Mary finishes her speech, “Henceforth I travel toward Repose, where time rests in the Eternity of Time; I go now into Silence”. Finally we are told, “Having said all this, Mary became silent, for it was in silence the Teacher spoke to her.” The Gospel ends with rebuke from a jealous Peter and demands from him and others that she be ignored but Mary has already made the teaching clear.
In Chapter 4 of Interior Castle, 16th Century Spanish mystic,Teresa of Avila, deals with the “prayer of quiet”; “In the interior of the soul a sweetness is felt so great that the soul feels clearly the nearness of its Lord.” And further, “It’s as though there were poured into the marrow of one’s bones a sweet ointment with a powerful fragrance.”
Enough talking then.

Let us too fall

into silence a while,

for it is there we also meet

the Christ in us.

Be still.

And know God.

~ by Fr Tim Ardouin on July 21, 2018.

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