Commemoration: Mary Magdalene
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Annually on July 22
Saint Mary Magdalene
"The Apostle to the Apostles"
First Witness to Christ's Resurrection
From the Society of Archbishop Justus:
Mary Magdalene is mentioned in the Gospels as being among the women of Galilee who followed Jesus and His disciples, and who was present at His Crucifixion and Burial, and who went to the tomb on Easter Sunday to annoint His body. She was the first to see the Risen Lord, and to announce His Resurrection to the apostles. Accordingly, she is referred to in early Christian writings as "the apostle to the apostles."
Mary Magdalene, Mary of Bethany (sister of Martha and Lazarus), and the unnamed penitent woman who annointed Jesus's feet (Luke 7:36-48) are sometimes supposed to be the same woman. From this, plus the statement that Jesus had cast seven demons out of her (Luke 8:2), has risen the tradition that she had been a prostitute before she met Jesus.
Because of the assumption that Mary Magdalene had been a spectacular sinner, and also perhaps because she is described as weeping at the tomb of Jesus on the Resurrection morning, she is often portrayed in art as weeping, or with eyes red from having wept. From this appearance we derive the English word "maudlin", meaning "effusively or tearfully sentimental." There is a Magdalen College at Oxford, and a Magdalene College at Cambridge (different spelling), both pronounced "Maudlin."
From the Crossroads Initiative:
Mary Magdalene has been universally honored as a saint from the beginning. All the gospels record her faithfulness to Christ even when the apostles wavered during and after the passion. Eastern Christians call her “apostle to the apostles” since she carried the news of the resurrection from the tomb to the twelve disciples on Easter morning. The following reading is an excerpt from a homily preached by Pope Saint Gregory the Great around AD 600 on her encounter with the risen Christ.
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 [John 20:11].
MARY MAGDALENE WAS STILL SEEKING CHRIST
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.
TO PERSEVERE WITH DESIRE
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.
PRAYER (traditional language):
Almighty God, whose blessed Son restored Mary Magdalene To health of body and mind, and called her to be a witness of his resurrection: Mercifully grant that by thy grace we may be healed of all our infirmities and know thee in the power of his endless life; who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, now and for ever.
1. The Society of Archbishop Justus: http://justus.anglican.org/resources/bio/206.html
2. Crossroads Initiative: https://www.crossroadsinitiative.com/media/articles/mary-magdalene/