Today is the Feast of Saint Mary Magdalene
St. Mary Magdalene was a friend and devoted follower of Jesus Christ, a reformed woman once of ill repute, out of whom He exorcised seven demons. Mary Magdalene has a special place among Jesus’ disciples and is mentioned several times in the Gospels. It is believed that she is the same penitent woman, Mary of Bethany, who anointed the feet of Jesus before his Passion, and the sister of Lazarus and Martha. She stood at the foot of the Cross with St. John and the Blessed Mother, and the next morning went to Christ’s tomb to anoint his body. As a reward for her great love and faithfulness, she is the first recorded witness of Jesus’ Resurrection. It was Mary Magdalene who informed the twelve Apostles that Jesus rose from the dead, and for this she is called “Apostle to the Apostles.” After Jesus’ Ascension into heaven, Mary Magdalene continued her mission as an evangelist, contemplative, and mystic in the heart of the Church. According to the Eastern tradition, she went to Ephesus with the Virgin Mary and died there. According to the Western tradition, she, along with her siblings Martha and Lazarus, were exiled from Israel and shipped out to sea, landing in Marseilles, France. Mary Magdalene evangelized and converted the Provence region, and lived in a cave doing penance for thirty years until her death. St. Mary Magdalene is the patron of women, repentant sinners, penitent women, reformed prostitutes, contemplatives, converts, pharmacists, perfumers, hairstylists, and against sexual temptation.
Credit: Morning Offering, https://www.morningoffering.com
She longed for Christ, though she thought he had been taken away
When Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and did not find the Lord’s body, she thought it had been taken away and so informed the disciples. After they came and saw the tomb, they too believed what Mary had told them. The text then says: The disciples went back home, and it adds: but Mary wept and remained standing outside the tomb.
We should reflect on Mary’s attitude and the great love she felt for Christ; for though the disciples had left the tomb, she remained. She was still seeking the one she had not found, and while she sought she wept; burning with the fire of love, she longed for him who she thought had been taken away. And so it happened that the woman who stayed behind to seek Christ was the only one to see him. For perseverance is essential to any good deed, as the voice of truth tells us: Whoever perseveres to the end will be saved.
At first she sought but did not find, but when she persevered it happened that she found what she was looking for. When our desires are not satisfied, they grow stronger, and becoming stronger they take hold of their object. Holy desires likewise grow with anticipation, and if they do not grow they are not really desires. Anyone who succeeds in attaining the truth has burned with such a great love. As David says: My soul has thirsted for the living God; when shall I come and appear before the face of God? And so also in the Song of Songs the Church says: I was wounded by love; and again: My soul is melted with love.
Woman, why are you weeping? Whom do you seek? She is asked why she is sorrowing so that her desire might be strengthened; for when she mentions whom she is seeking, her love is kindled all the more ardently.
Jesus says to her: Mary. Jesus is not recognised when he calls her “woman”; so he calls her by name, as though he were saying: Recognise me as I recognise you; for I do not know you as I know others; I know you as yourself. And so Mary, once addressed by name, recognises who is speaking. She immediately calls him rabboni, that is to say, teacher, because the one whom she sought outwardly was the one who inwardly taught her to keep on searching.
Credit: A homily on the Gospels by Gregory the Great, pope; The Office of Divine Readings.
Because Mary Magdalene was granted the privilege of announcing the Resurrection, St. Hippolytus (c. 170 – c. 235) gave her the title, “Apostle to the Apostles.”
The story of Mary of Magdalene reminds us all of a fundamental truth … A disciple of Christ is one who, in the experience of human weakness, has had the humility to ask for his help, has been healed by him and has set out following closely after him, becoming a witness of the power of his merciful love that is stronger than sin and death.
Pope Benedict XVI
Saint Mary Magdalene, Witness of the Resurrection, pray for us.
Be not afraid! And may the peace of Christ be with you and your loved ones today and always. Holy Family pray for us. Amen.