Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Feast of Saint Mary Magdalen

We rejoice today on this new feast of Saint Mary Magdalen, first witness to the Resurrection, apostle to the apostles, truly an evangelist who announces the joyful message of Easter to the apostles, indeed to the whole world. 

We love Mary Magdalen because of the way in which the boldness of her love for Jesus made her stare death down beyond all human logic or hope.  For her there is no question that the Messiah of Israel, sent to redeem all humankind, and the Beloved of her most intimate heart are one and the same person. She perseveres in weeping at the entrance to the tomb because she perseveres in her love: the presence and actions of Jesus in her own life had taught her that love is indeed stronger than death. Against all odds and logic, in a sort of sublime madness, she clings to her Jesus dead or alive; and she does not reason about a her relative physical strength when she says ironically to the man she thought was the gardener, “Tell me where you laid him, and I will take him away.” Because she loves Jesus so much, she is prepared to carry his body away single-handed.

Such passionate intensity surely was born from her gratitude at having had no less than seven demons driven out of her by Jesus. As one transformed by the healing power of Jesus’ love, she becomes “the apostle to the Apostles,” since more than any of them she can easily believe in Christ’s Resurrection. For all time St. Mary Magdalen stands as the foremost embodiment of the soul thirsting for God, the soul passionately seeking God.  And in the end she does find him. “He whom her heart loves” is also the Beloved of the Father who had first come seeking her. Mary could find him because he first chose, in utter love, to put himself within her reach.
Fresco from the Arena Chapel in Padua by Giotto. Reflection by Father Simeon.