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Memorial of Saint Mary Magdalene, July 22

Updated: Aug 2, 2023

(John 20:1-2.11-18) -Today we celebrate the Feast of St. Mary Magdalene, the woman whom the Lord had cast out seven demons, and whose encounter with the Lord had completely changed the course of her life.

-The seven demons had been cast out from her, and now the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit took possession of her heart.

-For those who had experienced falling in love, even once in their lifetime, it would not be difficult to understand the motivation of St. Mary Magdalene in going to the tomb early that morning.

-It is of cardinal importance to note that she did not think of the resurrection when she went to the tomb early that morning.

She was motivated more by a pure human love rather than a grandeur spectacular expectation of the resurrection of Christ. This is where she begins. She uses this to understand and explore the mystery of her encounter with Christ.

-This experience was so deep that it could never be blotted out. However, only by degrees that the profound meaning of this experience begins to unfold.

-The Gospel gives us some glimpse of the dynamic progress of her knowledge of who Christ is in her life. First, she did not know Him. This is tantamount to the period when she was still living in sin, because when a person does not know God, he or she will not hesitate to commit sin.

-Then she supposed Him to be a gardener. This is a period when a person have some knowledge of God in our brothers and sisters, but still vague. Then she called Him “sir” which suggests a deep respect for another person even if he or she is in a low status in community and society.

-And finally she called Him Rabonni which means master/teacher. She now recognized Him. Note that it was only when Our Lord called her by name that she was able to recognize Him.

-This means that our progress in knowledge and love of God is not our own doing, but primarily God’s own initiative. We look for Him, search for Him, and love Him because we had already been found and loved by Him. He loves us first and left the angels to look for us, and at last had been found by Him.

-In this gesture of seeking and finding God, St. Bernard of Clairvaux has this to say, “No one has the strength to seek You, O Lord, unless he has already found You. For it is a fact that You will to be found in order that You may be sought, and You will to be sought that You may be found. It is possible, therefore, to seek You and it is possible to find You.” St. Anselm also said: “May I seek You, O Lord, by my desires. May I desire none but You in all my quest. May I find You by loving You, and may I love You when found.”

-For this reason we can proclaim the resurrection of the Lord, for His resurrection is our resurrection. He did not rise from the dead for His own sake, but for us.

-And not only that, but He confirmed the prayer which He taught His disciples calling God our Father when He said: “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.”

-These words give us some impetus to look at the things that are above where Christ is seated at the right hand of the Father. And one day, together with St. Mary Magdalene and all the angels and saints we hope we will behold the face of Him whom our souls love and are longing for like the deer that longs for the running stream.

- Fr Alberic Maisog -

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