The Triumph of Grace

Feast of St Mary Magdalene, The “APOSTLE OF THE APOSTLES”

When sin becomes public it is called a scandal. The ears of the public are magnetic to scandals, and those ‘caught in the act’ are not spared but ridiculed. Today we celebrate with high honor a woman in the bible who was known as a ‘public sinner.’ Mary Magdalene was introduced as a follower of Jesus from whom seven demons were cast out (Lk 8:1-3; Mk 16:9). Among the group of women that followed and supported Jesus, Mary Magdalene was first mentioned. This shows that she occupied a prominent role among those women! Again, her name was mentioned among the women that witnessed the crucifixion from a distance (Mk 15:40; Mt 27:55-56; Lk 23:49; Jn 19:25). Mary Magdalene was there when Joseph of Arimathea buried the body of Jesus (Mk 15:47; Mt 27:61).

The evangelists testify that Mary Magdalene saw the empty tomb and encountered the risen Lord (Mk 16:1-8; Mt 28:1-10; LK 24:1-12; Jn 20:1-10). Her courage and love for Jesus were at their peak during the resurrection experience. Jesus sent to go and inform the disciples that he had risen. By standing as a witness, and delivering to them the good news of the resurrection, Mary Magdalene is called, the ‘Apostle to the apostles.’

Mary Magdalene is often associated with the unnamed sinful woman in Lk 7:36-50, who anointed the feet of Jesus at the Pharisee’s house. And it was presumed that the sinful woman was a former prostitute, who could be likened to the woman caught in adultery in Jn 8:1-11. She was also likened to Mary of Bethany, the sister of Martha and Lazarus. This notion and tradition gained widespread acceptance through a narrative of Pope Gregory I (Gregory the Great) in 591. Hence, Mary Magdalene came to be associated more with the woman that was saved from prostitution than the woman that was delivered from seven demons. In 2016 Pope Francis raised the level of liturgical memory on July 22 from the memorial to feast, and for her to be referred to as the “Apostle of the apostles”.
In her, we see how the grace of God can transform us. The opportunity for the new life we have in Christ Jesus is immeasurable. This gracious opportunity for growth, transformation, and salvation, is available and accessible to us if we can consistently and courageously love Jesus like St Mary Magdalene. Yes, Mary Magdalene is a patron of the contemplative life, converts, glove makers, hairdressers, penitent sinners, people ridiculed for their piety, perfumeries, pharmacists, sexual temptation, tanners, and women.

Fr Jude Chinwenwa Nwachukwu, C.Ss.R
Saints Peter & Paul Catholic Church,
Tedi-Muwo, Ojo, Lagos.
Thursday, July 22, 2021.
Feast of St Mary Magdalene.
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