Friday of the 16th week in Ordinary Time, Feast of Mary Magdalen, July 22, 2022
2 Cor 5:14-17; Ps 63:2-6, 8-9; Jn 20:1-2, 11-18
As I continue to reflect on my retreat from a few weeks ago, a few of the Scripture passages that we were to meditate on was the foot of the cross, and then the subsequent finding of the tomb empty. It is interesting to note that the retreat master picked both from the Gospel of John, where we get more information about those two events. Mary Magdalen is more prevalent in John’s accounts than in the other Gospels. It could be that later on, Mary accompanied John on some of his apostolic journeys, or it could be that John just chose to add more detail. In any case, Mary Magdalen was an important part of those events.
Stepping back a little bit, it was Mary whom Jesus met and cured her of demonic possessions. I can remember one interpretation of that event in a movie where they kind of passed by each other and locked eyes. Immediately Jesus knew what was going on, and Mary, in a lucid moment, pleaded with Jesus to free her from these demons. For me, it was a powerful moment; in spite of ourselves, God shows endless mercy toward us. Jesus heals Mary and then Mary becomes an ardent follower of Jesus.
As Jesus progresses toward Golgotha to His crucifixion, there is Mary following him and wiping his face with a cloth. It was now her turn to return the mercy and love to Him that He always gave to her. Now we are at the foot of the cross, and who is there? Scripture tells us possibly up to four women, but for sure we know Mary, His mother, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalen were there along with John.
Today, in the Gospel, Mary, and a few other women, are heading to the tomb with spices they had prepared as per Jewish burial customs. But when she gets there, the stone is rolled away. Perplexed, she runs back to the disciples and tells them. When they get back to the tomb, the disciples peek in. Mary, in her sorrow, is weeping outside. When she gets enough courage, she peeks inside and sees two angels sitting there. While Mary was still crying, the angels ask her why she is weeping. She says she wants to know where Jesus is. When she turns around, there He is. Mary Magdalen’s encounters with Jesus are no accident. Jesus knew Mary’s predicaments from the very beginning, and He showered her with love and mercy. Because of His love for her, Mary dedicated her life to following Him after she was healed.
When you get a moment take a few minutes, and reflect on Mary’s life, on Jesus’s love, and what He did for her. Find the stories in all the Gospels about Mary Magdalen and read them. Mary is a perfect example of how we, with all our faults, problems, and cares can be loved by our Lord. Mary chose to allow the Lord to heal her, and from that came a life of joy. What better way to meet Jesus than to sit at the foot of the cross, witness His suffering and death, and then meet Him at the tomb when He has risen. Mary brings that challenge to us, to take all our sufferings, pains, and hurts, and lay them at Jesus’s feet on the cross. Leave them there and then go meet Him at the tomb, where we see Him in His glory, and He showers us with all His love.