“Then she turned round and saw Jesus standing there; but she did not know that it was Jesus. ‘Woman why are you crying?’ Jesus asked her. ‘Who is it that you are looking for?’
She thought he was the gardener, so she said to him, ‘If you took him away, sir, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and get him.’
Jesus said to her, ‘Mary!’
She turned towards him and said in Hebrew, ‘Rabboni!’ (This means ‘Teacher’.)”
I have been challenged by this section of scripture recently, which is such a beautiful moment in the Easter story. I love the raw intimacy between Jesus and Mary. Though she first thought he was the gardener, upon hearing him say her name she realized in much awe and wonder who he truly was.
But I also love the lead up to this moment. Mary had gone to the tomb and found it empty, and thinking the body had been stolen she informed the disciples. After they came and saw the tomb they believed what she had told them, and then, as the text says, “The disciples went back home. But Mary wept and remained standing outside the tomb.” (John 20:10-11)
Why did Mary stay there? Jesus’ body was gone, there was nothing she could do, so why didn’t she go home? The answer is love. The overwhelming love that she felt for Christ is why she stayed, weeping and seeking the one who had turned her life around. The one who she desired more than anything else in the world. I came across a quote the other day by Saint Gregory the Great, in which he writes about Mary, “If she was the only one to see him, then, it is because she persevered in seeking him.”
I too often push my spiritual life to the back burner when it should be the very heartbeat of my life. When things are going smoothly, when my list of goals is growing, I don’t always make time for prayer. Me and God, we’re good, I tell myself. And yes, this is true, me and God are good, but where is the fire burning in my heart that keeps me pursuing him?
My husband and I have been married for 14 years, but still we take the time to be together. We are still discovering ourselves, each other, and who we are together. And every time I catch a glimpse of my husband’s character, of the things that make him feel alive, the things that keep him up at night, I am reminded of why I fell in love with this man. Would I suddenly decide to stop spending time with him because I already know everything there is to know about him? No, because love is a powerful force, and it keeps pulling me towards him, towards intimacy and connection, towards the desire to know him and love him more.
There’s a reason that Jesus calls us his bride, his Beloved. This is a love like no other — “You shall no longer be called Forsaken, but you shall be called My Delight is in Her…As the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice in you.” (Isaiah 62:4-5)
How passionately God pursues me, how deep his love is for me. Does this kind of love really deserve a nonchalant attitude in return? My heart has been convicted by this story of Mary Magdalene. How I long for that same love for Christ that burns like a fire within me, that keeps me seeking him even when I don’t see him, that pushes me to persevere until I do. As A.W. Tozer has so perfectly said, “To have found God and still to pursue him is the soul’s paradox of love.”
Today, after I write this, I will take a few minutes away from screens, away from my to-do list, away from the noise, and I will meditate on this incredible love relationship I am a part of with the Creator of the universe. I will listen for his still small voice that calls me by name, and I will pray to be a part of his kingdom come. And tomorrow, I will do the same. This is what we do when we truly believe that I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine (Song of Songs 6:3).