The Apostle of the Apostles
Dear Brothers & Sisters,
This week we will celebrate a very important feast in the Church. On July 24th the Church celebrates the feast of St. Mary Magdalene. Let’s look first what we know about her life and the mission that God sent her. A character that often is uncertain of her history. Although there is no explicit correlation between Mary Magdalene who stood with Jesus at his crucifixion and the woman caught in adultery that appears in Chapter 7 of the Gospel of Luke, we know for sure that she was the woman whom Jesus had freed from seven demons (Lk 8). Throughout the time, she was thought to be a prostitute from the city of Magdala, near Tiberias near the Lake of Galilee. Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich had visions about the life of Jesus and those near him (very interesting book to read). The movie of the Passion of Christ made by Mel Gibson used some of her revelations to fill in the story that is not reported in the Gospels. According to her, Mary of Magdala was a wealthy woman who had an immoral life looking for the love of her life. In one occasion, she ended up going out with a married man and was caught in the act of adultery. At that moment, Mary’s encounter with Jesus changed her life. She finally found the love of her life. Shortly after that, she became a follower of Christ and accompanied him to the end, to Calvary. Mourning for the loss of Jesus, she goes to give him proper burial looking for a corpse. To her surprise, she finds an angel that announces the resurrection of Christ. In her quest to search for the Lord, she continues searching for him, until the Risen Christ meets her and called her by her name, as it appears in John 20. There he sends/commissions her to tell the apostles about his resurrection. She became the apostle to the Apostles (the word Apostle means sent).
When God chooses a person for a mission, he does not look at the sinful history, the limitations of oneself or the aspirations. He simply chooses. Without Mary Magdalene, Peter and the other apostles might have never gone out to look for the Lord. This is why recently, Mary was given this title of the Apostle of the Apostles, as she was recognized by the Early Church.
Besides that, her importance to our lives is also significant. Without the love of God for her, and her response to the His love, we ourselves might feel that we are unworthy to be in the Church or to receive communion. The other day I met a person who did not want to go into the church because he said that he was not worthy. Certainly he was not worthy like myself. No one is worthy of God, but He still chooses to manifest himself to us, and invites us to love him regardless of our past. He is the one who calls us by our name to receive His Body and Blood. He made us Children of God by our baptism. In other words, if Mary Magdalene was indeed a prostitute, or someone not associated with any sinfulness, that is “irrelevant”, because God has already chosen us to reveal his love for us. Then, like Mary, let’s announce/share with others how we have seen the Lord in our lives, how he has accompanied us in our journeys and our difficulties. Sometimes it’s good to be reminded.
Father Steven Clemence