LESSONS FROM MARY MAGDALENE
By Monsignor JOSÉ GOMEZ, Archbishop of Los Angeles
The universal Church celebrates the Memorial of St. Mary Magdalene on July 22. I love her story. It is a beautiful story of how God’s love can change lives.
We don’t know much about Mary Magdalene — just a few lines in the Bible. But that tells us everything we need to know.
She was one of the women who followed Jesus Christ and helped him in his ministry. These women went from town to town with him. They saw Jesus heal the sick and work miracles. They heard his preaching and teaching.
St. Mary Magdalene believed in Jesus’ promises. That no matter what sins we have in our lives, God is ready to forgive us.
The Scriptures tell us she was possessed by seven demons. But Jesus set her free from her demons.
St. Mary Magdalene’s story reminds us of something important that I think we need to remember in our culture today.
God is kind and merciful. There is no one who is beyond the pale of his redemption. There is no one whom God cannot redeem and use for his purposes.
I worry sometimes that we might be forgetting that in our society.
When I am reading on the internet, or listening to the radio or TV, I am surprised at how many people seem so angry and judgmental. In blog posts and comment boxes, people question each other’s motives. They accuse and threaten.
Everywhere in our culture, people seem so quick to condemn. It is very hard to find words of mercy or understanding for someone who has done something wrong. There are many good people out there saying things they know they shouldn’t be saying.
We need to watch out for these tendencies in our lives, my friends.
People make mistakes. They sin. Some people do evil that causes scandal and grave harm. We can condemn the offense and work for justice — without trying to destroy the person who committed the sin. We are called in all things to charity and truth, kindness and empathy. No matter who are dealing with.
The life of Mary Madgalene is a reminder that God is always merciful — even if we are not. We don’t know what her personal “demons” were. Over the years, saints and other writers have speculated. But we will never know for certain.
We do know the sins of St. Paul. He persecuted the Church. He presided over the killing of St. Stephen. And yet God redeemed him and set his life on a different path. He turned a great sinner into a great saint.
And God also turned Mary Magdalene into a great witness of his love.
When the Roman soldiers came to arrest Jesus, all of his apostles and other followers ran away.
Mary Magdalene didn’t run. She stood by his side during his trial and sufferings.
When the authorities executed Jesus on the cross, Mary Magdalene was there, alongside Mary, his mother.
When it was all over, Mary helped take his body down off the cross and get it ready to be placed in the tomb.
And on the third day, the first Easter Sunday, Mary Magdalene was the first witness to Jesus Christ risen from the dead.
Her eyes were opened and she recognized him. And Jesus told her to go tell his apostles. “I have seen the Lord,” she told them.
Still today, Mary Magdalene is remembered as “the apostle to the apostles,” because she saw the risen Jesus and was the first to tell others about him.
St. Mary Magdalene experienced in her own life the healing power of Christ’s tender mercy.
Sometimes I think this is the hardest thing for people to believe. We think that this world is so big, how can God possibly love everyone?
But he does! God cares for you very deeply. And he cares for the greatest sinner just as deeply.
Jesus said there is joy in heaven every time a sinner stops sinning and turns his life around. He said God is always waiting to welcome us back to his love.
Our job as Christians is to help sinners to find Jesus Christ — who alone can set them free from their demons.
We need to reject every temptation to shame or condemn people. Let us never be the cause of turning someone away from seeking God’s forgiveness and redemption.
Let us pray harder for one another this week. And let us as our Blessed Mother to give us a faith like Mary Magdalene and heart to forgive. VN
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