July 22: Mary of Magdala

In the long tradition of the Church, including its artistic tradition, St. Mary Magdalene has generally been portrayed as “the repentant sinner.” This is largely due to her being mistakenly identified with the sinful woman who washed the feet of Jesus with her tears and dried them with her hair. There is no evidence to suggest in the Gospels that she was any more a sinner than the other disciples of Jesus!

The Gospel reading for her Feast (John 20, 1-2, 11-18) portrays her as a woman whose devotion to Jesus brought her to the tomb early on that first Easter Sunday morning. Her heartfelt devotion to Jesus left her outside the tomb weeping tears of loss when she discovered the body of Jesus was not there. She sought the Lord, but could not find Him. However, the Lord came seeking her and found her. He then called her by her name, “Mary.”

Like Mary Magdalene, we too seek the Lord, and, like her, we are also the object of the Lord’s search. Indeed, the Lord’s search for us is prior to our search for Him. Even if we struggle to make our way to the Lord, like Mary, the Lord always first makes His way to us and calls us by name.

Jesus is the Good Shepherd who, having laid down His life for us, now calls us to Himself. In calling us in this way, He also then sends us out, as He sent out Mary Magdalene, to take the good news of His Risen presence to those we meet. Do we see this clearly? The Lord, who calls us by name, also asks us to be His messengers to others. 

Let us pray. “O God, your Son first entrusted to St. Mary Magdalene the joyful news of His Resurrection. By her prayers and example, may we proclaim Christ as our living Lord and, one day, see Him in glory, for he lives and reigns with you forever and ever. Amen.”

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