I usually spend a few days after Easter Sunday with a few close priest friends, in community. One or another of our many kind parishioners lets us camp out in a vacation home for a few days, and this morning I woke up to birdsong and ocean waves. After washing up I went downstairs to read over the day's Gospel, which on Tuesday of the Octave tells of Mary Magdalene weeping at Christ's tomb. "Woman, why are you weeping?" the angel asks. A minute later Jesus asks the same thing, and to both Mary replies "They have taken my Lord...."
As I thought about this Gospel, I heard a ruckus outside the window. A male Canadian goose was pursuing a female, aiming his lowered head at her while she adroitly sidestepped his advances. But she did not fly away. She wanted what he was clumsily offering, but ... not yet. There was a courtship dance to be engaged before love could be consummated. Nearby two other Canadian geese with their fuzzy little chick looked indulgently at this ritual, which they no doubt had undergone a few weeks previous.
Love is delicate. Men are not naturally delicate, and women are not much better. God must teach us the delicate art of love. As a recent movie (The Dating Project) pointed out, the "hookup" culture has largely replaced the art of lovemaking. In a marketing-generated mentality of "owning it, now," we imagine we can control love, much as we imagine we can control human life (we call that "birth control"). But in fact love, and new life, is a gift to be received, not a product to be purchased.
Canadian geese know this. Jesus taught Mary Magdalene patience, to wait for love rather than grasping for it. Love taken by force is never very satisfying. The beloved must be pursued, yes, but never "taken." Love, and the life it naturally generates, are much better received as a gift than "owned."