JULY 22, 2020 - Feast Day of Mary Magdalene
Dear Beloved of Christ,
Almighty God, whose blessed Son restored Mary Magdalene to health of body and of mind, and called her to be a witness of his resurrection: Mercifully grant that by your grace, we may be healed of all our infirmities and know you in the power of his unending life: who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Mary Magdalene is known as the “apostle to the apostles.” All four gospels tell of Mary as the first witness of Jesus’ resurrection. Jesus sends her to the other disciples, “commissioning” them to go and announce his resurrection. In all four gospels Mary Magdalene is a witness of the empty tomb, either alone or with other women. Given the time the gospels were written, it is amazing a woman’s testimony would have such a prominent place. In the early church Mary is esteemed – a witness present at both Jesus’ death and resurrection.
When she found the tomb empty and Jesus’ body missing, she runs to tell Peter and John. They arrive, look in, and return home. Mary is left alone weeping. Maybe the gardener might know where Jesus’ body has been taken. It’s Jesus, she recognizes as he speaks her name, “Mary.” The Lord is risen in Mary, commissioned now to go tell the story to the men.
When the other disciples flee, Mary stands firm. She has a profound human love for Jesus, that is matched only by her spiritual awareness of Jesus in his teaching. Her prominence shines as a follower of Jesus, one who stood by him in life, death, and resurrection. For this Mary Magdalene is known as “the apostle to the apostles.”
She is mentioned fourteen times in scripture, more than any other woman, except Jesus’ mother Mary. She is probably wealthy, prominent in her community, who understands Jesus before others do. In her we see the epitome of what friendship with Jesus means – to know a person, stand with that person, walk with and accompany them in good times and in suffering, even as his death approaches. Mary knew. Mary is truly an example of a person – a woman of faith for us to look to, and give thanks for her life and witness to Jesus.
Fr. Richard Rohr thinks it significant, that Pope Francis, in 2016, decreed her feast day, July 22 be celebrated liturgically like the other apostles.
May Mary Magdalene’s witness to Jesus inspire us to follow Jesus with our devotion, love and loyalty — trusting in these days especially, as she, the “more” beneath the surface events of these days – the pain and rancor — more than meets the eye – the more of God’s everlasting and sustaining love for you.Blessings and faith to know God holds you, and all of us, in Love, Fr. Steve