Reading I: Sgs 3:1-4b OR: 2 Cor 5:14-17
Responsorial Psalm: Ps 63:2, 3-4, 5-6, 8-9
Gospel: Jn 20:1-2, 11-18
Liturgical colour: White.
My dearest brothers and sisters -in-Christ,
There are a many Marys within the Holy Scriptures —the New Testament mentions six altogether! The Mary we know as Mary Magdalene, whose memorial we celebrate today, draws her title from Magdala, the city of her origin. Luke tells us that Jesus cast seven demons out of her (Luke 8:2). Afterward, she became His disciple.
John’s Gospel tells us that she was one of the Marys present at the crucifixion of Our Lord Jesus:”Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene” (John 19:25, NIV).
And Mary Magdalene was also the very first witness to the Lord’s resurrection: Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. They asked her, ‘Woman, why are you crying?’ ‘They have taken my Lord away,’ she said, ‘and I don’t know where they have put him.’ At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. He asked her, ‘Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?’ Thinking he was the gardener, she said, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Mary.’ She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, ‘Rabboni!’ (John 20:11–16, NIV).
Mary’s devotion to the Lord Jesus put her in the spotlight of several writings told to us within the Holy Gospels. The life and the faith of Mary Magdalene, both have such a lot to teach us about following Jesus. Here are three lessons we can learn from Mary Magdalene.
1. We don’t have to be defined by our past: There’s a lot of speculation about Mary’s background. Many People have tied Mary to the sinful woman in Luke 7:36–50. Many also assume that Mary was a prostitute or a woman of ill repute. But there truly isn’t any biblical evidence whatsoever for portraying Mary in that light.
As Luke tells us, Mary had seven demons cast out of her. Whatever her background had been before she met Jesus, as is also true for the rest of us even today, Mary isn’t defined by who she was before meeting the Lord. All that is important is who Mary became after discovering Him.
Like Mary, we don’t have to let our pasts dictate how we see ourselves, nor should dictate how others may see us. Paul explains it this way, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here” (2 Corinthians 5:17, NIV)!
2. Jesus should be the center of our lives: After Mary’s first encounter with Our Lord Jesus, Luke tells us:
“After this, Jesus travelled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, And also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; Joanna the wife of Chuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means” (Luke 8:1–3, NIV).
Not only did Mary follow the Lord Jesus and His disciples from town to town, but she and some other women also helped to support Christ and the disciples financially. This role continued throughout His earthly ministry.
Matthew tells us that they were present at the crucifixion, and followed Jesus all the way to Galilee to take care of Him: “Many women were there, watching from a distance. They had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for his needs. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons” (Matthew 27:55–56, NIV).
It’s no surprise then, that Mary Magdalene would find herself in a prominent position at the Lord’s resurrection, also.
We should live our lives by following Mary’s example. When we encounter Jesus, we shouldn’t return to the life we previously lived. Our Lord and Saviour changes everything! Our whole life ought to become about following and serving Him until—like Mary—our story becomes intertwined and indistinguishable from His own.
3. Jesus uses the weak things of the world to shame the strong: In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul talks about the gospel as being foolishness. The world doesn’t understand it, so they discount and dismiss it.
According to Paul, God did that on purpose: “But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him” (1 Corinthians 1:27–29).
We see a perfect example of this principle in Jesus’ relationship with Mary Magdalene. In a time when women were seen as second class citizens with no real authority, Jesus demonstrated a special tenderness and care for women. We see this in His choice to reveal Himself to Mary first after the resurrection.
This is the most critical event in history, and Jesus made a woman the first witness. He even encourages her to tell the disciples (John 20:17). The irony is that they didn’t believe Mary and the other women (Luke 24:11).
We need to be extremely careful in our lives, to ensure that we never dismiss things that don’t follow our human expectations, because Jesus doesn’t always do things in the way in which we may expect. Our Lord delights in working out His plan in the most wonderful, yet unlikeliest of ways. He did that through Mary, and if we let Him, He’ll do such through us, too!