Amateurs – The Love of the Two Mary’s

18 Apr
“As so often happens, the great discovery in the drama that is Easter was the work of amateurs.” An amateur is, in the primary sense of the term, a “lover.” Our favourite amateur sleuths on TV are lovers – lovers of people, of intrigue and of little hints, the nods and winks that break what seems to be unbreakable alibis and stories. They stumble almost by accident onto the truth and discover the truth.  Our history is full of amateurs who have discovered new stars, new formulas and new ways of doing things the experts would be, and are, jealous of.
 
“…the Mary’s went to the tomb out of love”, love for Jesus, love for the truth, love for hope… “. If we know anything of human nature, we know that love was the primary force that drove them there.” Not inquisitiveness, not fear, not a need to confirm that their worst nightmare had happened. They went out of love, a passionate heart called them forward to stand near and with the one who had held all their hopes and dreams.
 
You see, “Love is a more reliable alarm clock than Faith or Hope – more likely to get you out of bed and get you going early in the morning.[1]” Love, a word we use much but understand little. Love is a term that has been emasculated of it’s power and it’s beauty in a world were words have only an utilitarian use. 
The Mary’s get up early, and get to the tomb before everyone else. Maybe they wanted to see if they could further care for the body, maybe they hoped they could see him for one last time, maybe…… maybe… they just had to be near him. They had loved him, he them, and love and the memory of that love was all they had left.
 
“And their love was rewarded: “9Suddenly Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him.”
 
Rabbi Dr. Abraham Twerski relates a discussion with a young boy who has a plate of fish in front of him. The young boy says, “I love fish.” The Rabbi asks, “You love fish?”. “Yes”, the boy replies, “I love fish.” The Rabbi replies, “ Is it love for the fish that makes you catch it, kill it and boil it?”. He continues, “It is not the fish you love, but you love yourself. You love how the fish makes you feel. You do not love the fish. You love yourself.” He finishes with, “So much of what is called love, is fish love.”
 
So much of what passes for love of Jesus the Christ is indeed fish love. We can love Jesus for what we believe Jesus can do for us, from fire insurance to a superman rescue, from rags to rishes, for healing and redemption. There is much of ourselves in this love. We love Jesus as long we are not made uncomfortable, challenged with ideas and opinions that turn our world upside.
 
We love Jesus if we can still  have our overseas holidays, our big houses and our fancy cars. We love Jesus if everything goes our way. We watch politicians invoke God to support ideas God would never entertain. We have sport men and women who thank God for winning a medal or trophy. We love Jesus if our privileged lifestyle continues and suggest others need to love Jesus like us if they are going to get out of the mess they are in. Our love for Jesus can be little more than self love, love of self, and the church is not exempt from such love. Love of liturgy, music,  existence and fancy clobber all smack of self love.
 
What the world and the church need is the love of the Mary’s, that simple love that goes to the one they love despite a broken heart, tear filled eyes and tired bodies, people who are finding the silence of God to be like a black hole into which they may very well disappear. Yet they go to the one they love.
Here in this parish I watch this love happen week in week out. People come with broken hearts, broken bodies and carrying great burdens but they come and they participate in the liturgy or they carry out their small and seemingly insignificant acts of love and they see Jesus. They do the flowers, polish the pews, tidy the candles, prepare the elements for the Eucharist, play the organ, prepare the choir, sing in the choir, make palm crosses, do the pew sheets, count the money, balance the books, run the book sales, manage the website, mentor a student, tidy the church for events such as this, and more, much, much more, and they see Jesus.
 
Being at the tomb and experiencing the resurrection of Jesus the Christ is not the task of the professionals, the clergy, the studied alone; it is the gift of love. Love that makes the journey to the place where mysteries are revealed, and the love that responds with the beauty of grace. And this love is the domain of the amateur, the ordinary person who sees beyond the mechanical actions of the tasks they carry out into the wonders hidden from those who are more learned and studied.
In the midst of a dark world where we name weapons of destruction with sexy names like Mother or Father of All Bombs, what is the response of love? The response is the love of beauty, mystery and wholeness of the ordinary. Someone said to me when asked this question, I just try to do beautiful things in the ordinary everyday acts of my life and hope that will help. It is the only thing that helps.
 
The two Mary’s remind us this Easter by their act of beauty and love, that such acts will never be denied no matter how dark the morning maybe, that beauty and love are their own own reward and only rewards those who let them loose in the world, making no claims of ownership. While I am sure the two Mary’s loved fish, their love for Jesus was no fish love. Amen


[1] John C. Purdy. Chapter 12 of God With a Human Face (1993), republished at Religion Online.Fish Love

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