Mary At The Tomb

After the ressurection Jesus appeared to Mary first, and told her to gather the disciples and prepare for His return

Much as in the rest of life, often times we are given the cross of waiting. At times this wait can be most difficult parts of the journey we face.  Things will be better… tomorrow.  Things will improve later on.   ” The sun will come out tomorrow!”..
unfortunately today, now is what the experience is.   When Jesus first appeared to Mary, He told her not to hold on to Him.

Mary held on to Jesus’ feet and He did not want to be held because he had yet to ascend.  Mary, of course did not want to let Him go.
Let us consider for a moment, that part of the reason, Jesus did not want to be held, was not for Him, but for HER !
In the early morning hours, she had been through loss, and heartache and we in the pit of dispare.  She had not quite understood, that
He would be returning, or that he lives.  He needed for her to be the spark that lit the fire.  He needed for her to start her own
journey to gather the others, to spread His word, to follow His will.  None of that could occur, IF, she did not let go and have faith.

We as Franciscans value a spiritual poverty.  A detachment from worldly possessions, things, position, or power.  There is a very simple
and profound reason for this.  These earthly posessions are the very same things that separate us from our brothers and sisters, and
ultimately from God.  There are great books written on the value, and practice of poverty.  In the parable of the rich man, a young man
asks Jesus what he must do to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.  Jesus tells him he must go and sell what he has, give the money to the
poor, and then come and follow Him.  The friars of the first orders, they sell, or give away all their posessions prior to entering
the monestary.  Same thing goes for the Poor Clare nuns.   The Secular Franciscans, embrace a poverty that is both a spiritual and
practical poverty according to their station and means.  Although there have been great debates over the centuries about what poverty
means or entails, all agree that any posession that keeps one from God, or the service of God, or His will should be removed.

It is not only about posessions, it is also about the intangibles that we hold on to. Is it truly the thing we hold, or the thing
that holds us ?    Currently all over the world there is a thing, called the “Tiny House Movement”.   In our current society, where
people seem to be wanting ever larger houses, and ever larger spaces to not only store or house their vast numbers of posessions,
but also in an effort to have their own “space” or room for this or that function.  Ultimately it is a point of posession.
MY House… MY office… MY space… My Car.. MY stuff.     In this Tiny House Movement, the concentration is to build smaller
houses that are mobile. Generally, these houses are on trailers and are generally speaking have a foot print not much larger than
one or two rooms in a traditional house.   The goals are usually financial independence, and freedom to travel, freedom of time.
There are good things about this movement, and ultimately something to be learned from it.  This much like the Franciscan view is
a reduction of what is not needed.  Posessions, over work, etc. and an intentional way of living that leads one to experience freedom
on some varied levels.  The difference, possibly, in some cases, is that for Franciscans, and a number of other clergy and seculars,
that ultimately our efforts are directed solely so that we can serve God.   Not so we can serve our own needs, wants and desires,
it is so we can share, with our brothers and sisters to help to get them along their own road of faith.   However, I digress.

The process of living simply, is much larger than the lack of desire to posess something. It is instead a release of those desires, for something larger… something better.  From a worldly perspective, living simply means that you occupy a smaller space, with fewer posessions, which means that is costs you less ultimately for your basic expenses.  It means that you can, if you choose, live without the need for more income, which is relative to fewer hours at a job, freeing you up to spend that time doing something else that  would be ultimately either more productive or more enjoyable.

Living simply gives one the freedom, if one so chooses, to travel where ever the heart desires.  possibly instead of less work it just provides more free flowing income.  This would allow one to do more with that expendible income than what was previously possible with the same level of actual income from the same amount of work.

In the end, as you can see, it is a tool.  A hammer can be used many ways.. its intent is to be used to build things.   Living simply is a tool we as Franciscans use, to free ourselves from the desire for, posessions, or the upkeep that comes with them.
Consider this story of  St. Francis and one of the brothers.

One day St. Francis was walking with one of the brothers who said, Brother Francis, I think I would really like to have a book…
St. francis said, Are you sure you really want a book ?.. If you have a book, then you have to have a shelf.  If you have a shelf then you need a wall.. and other walls to hold it up.. and a roof.. and a door, and a lock to secure it.   Then you have to watch the house that the book is in and it will require maintenance…. Are you sure you really want a book ?
Instead of posession and power we can instead use that to care for our brothers and sisters and creation.   It does not mean that we all have to live in extreme poverty.  If you are not a priest or religious brother or sister, then you have to live in the world and work in the world. If your married then you have a spouse who may or may not share your idea of what simple living would entail.
You might have children who have needs that differ from yours , and there are the impacts to those people.  There are valuable lessons in simplicity, * IF*  those lessons are directed towards God, to teaching life lessons, to teaching the value inherent in all of creation, and to teach others by our example what it means to be a Christian.

But wait !  what has all of this to do with Mary at the Tomb ?  Glad you asked.    Lets consider Mary Magdalene… look at what happened to her.. she went from living a less than perfect life, to following Jesus around with nothing…  serving Him and others.
She at the tomb was heart broken and probably pretty much a basket case.   When Jesus first appeared, she then had to wait. She had to let go.. but she had to let go for something greater.

In the same way Mary had to let go. We too must let go.  We must let go of our own vices.. our prejudices, our hatred, our greed, our own desires for more, in order to make room for God.  We need to let go of those things in order to allow God to work within us, and work with us.  In the end, Jesus will appear for us, within us, and through us to others.

May God give you the gift of His peace !


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