“For greater things you were born.” (Ven. Mother Luisita)
TUESDAY, April 6th Jn. 20: 11-18 “Jesus said to her, ‘Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and tell them, I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”
Part 1: Mary Magdalene… from a Homily by Pope Gregory the Great
Part 2: THE MAGDALENE… by Fr. Ed Broom, OMV
PART 1: Mary Magdalene… from a Homily by Saint Pope Gregory the Great
At first she sought but did not find, but when she persevered it happened that she found what she was looking for. When our desires are not satisfied, they grow stronger, and becoming stronger they take hold of their object. Holy desires likewise grow with anticipation, and if they do not grow they are not really desires. Anyone who succeeds in attaining the truth has burned with such a great love. As David says: My soul has thirsted for the living God; when shall I come and appear before the face of God? And so also in the Song of Songs the Church says: I was wounded by love; and again: My soul is melted with love.
Woman, why are you weeping? Whom do you seek? She is asked why she is sorrowing so that her desire might be strengthened; for when she mentions whom she is seeking, her love is kindled all the more ardently.
Jesus says to her: Mary. Jesus is not recognized when he calls her “woman”; so he calls her by name, as though he were saying: Recognize me as I recognize you; for I do not know you as I know others; I know you as yourself. And so Mary, once addressed by name, recognizes who is speaking. She immediately calls him Rabboni, that is to say, teacher, because the one whom she sought outwardly was the one who inwardly taught her to keep on searching.
℟. On her return from the Lord’s tomb, Mary Magdalen told the disciples that she had seen the Lord.* Blessed is she who deserved to be first with the news that Life had risen from death.
℣. While she was there, weeping, she saw her beloved, and then told the good news to the others.* Blessed is she who deserved to be first with the news that Life had risen from death.
PART 2: THE MAGDALENE… By Fr. Ed Broom, OMV
We are in the Octave of Easter! Once again, let us beg for most intense joy! The reason for this joy is JESUS RISEN FROM THE DEAD! “This is the day the Lord has made, let us be rejoice and be glad in it.” (Ps. 118: 24)
Let us listen once again to the words of Pope Francis is his Apostolic Exhortation Joy of the Gospel: “The joy of the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Those who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness. With Christ joy is constantly born anew.” (Joy of the Gospel, Pope Francis, #1)
Now let us consider the great honor the Risen Lord bestowed upon Mary Magdalene. Tradition and common sense tell us the Risen Jesus first appeared to His Mother Mary!
The Magdalene was the second person to see and touch the Risen Lord Jesus! Her intense love for her Master bountifully repaid!
1. THE MAGDALENE. Mary Magdalene did not always live the life of a saint, quite the contrary! Mary Magdalene had lived a disordered, sinful life – that of a loose woman. Men had taken advantage of her and she allowed herself to be taken advantage of! When God is absent from our lives we are weak, vulnerable and easily prone to slipping and falling into sin. What happened to Mary Magdalene could easily happen to every one of us without the grace of God! Once Saint Philip Neri saw a bum/street person lying in the gutter of the streets of Rome. He made a comment that has become universalized in many languages: “There go I, save the grace of God!” (In Italian: “Eccome, senza la gracia de Dio!”) Let us continue to rejoice in the Risen Lord Jesus, but remain vigilant, watching constantly over our thoughts, feelings, and the movements of our hearts. In other words, we must never let down our guard because we are living in the combat zone, in mortal battle! Let us never fall into the sin of presumption – meaning, presuming on our own strength to walk the straight and narrow path. Rather, “Our help is in the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth.” (Ps. 124:8)
2. MAGDALENE AND THE DEVILS. An additional note on the Magdalene! Before her conversion to a deep love and devotion to Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Mary Magdalene had seven devils within her soul! Jesus actually performed an exorcism, expelling these evil spirits from her soul! Let us rejoice in the Risen Lord with Magdalene. At the same time let us be alert for the devil is prowling about our soul seeking an inroad – the devil never sleeps and never goes on vacation. He is at work in all times and in all places, especially when we are in a state of desolation! Saint Peter compares the devil to a lion: “The devil is like a roaring lion on the prowl looking for whom he can devour. Resist him, solid in the faith.” (1 Pt. 5: 8-9) Let us pray that we will experience joy and consolation in the Risen Lord Jesus. Joy is a powerful tool to upset, overcome, and defeat the devil.
3. GOD’S INFINITE MERCY, MAGDALENE, AND SINNERS. One essential point for meditation with respect to the Magdalene is God’s infinite mercy. In the Diary of Saint Faustina, Jesus states clearly that His greatest attribute is His Infinite Mercy! The sin that hurts God most is lack of trust in His mercy. The greatest sinners can become the greatest saints if they simply trust in His Infinite Mercy. We see that this is true. Some of the great sinners indeed did become great saints because they trusted in God’s mercy: Saint Peter, the Good thief, and Mary Magdalene are clear cases of sinners becoming great saints because they trusted more in God’s mercy than in their own moral misery – another term for sin! Now turning to you and me! Like Magdalene, we too are sinners. Even if we have fallen over the cliff and are hanging from a precipice between heaven and earth, if we turn back to the Lord with all of our heart, His merciful and loving Sacred Heart will be wide open to receive us! Saint Pope John Paul II’s invitation was clear: “Do not be afraid. Open wide the doors to Christ.”
4. TRUE CONVERSION. Pope Francis stated in one of his homilies that we must follow Christ in three distinct ways: with our mind, with our heart, and with our feet! We must know God, love God, and finally show that we love God with our feet – namely, by the way we live and act. We must “talk the talk and walk the walk!” Otherwise we fall into hypocrisy. Mary Magdalene’s conversion was authentic. Viewing the film of Mel Gibson, The Passion of the Christ, we can see that as clear as the noon-day sun! The writer presents Jesus and Our Lady of Sorrows, but also, in scene after scene who appears with Mary is Magdalene. She is there with Our Lady step by step almost the whole film. On the Way of the Cross, the Magdalene is seen accompanying the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Magdalene is present during the crucifixion of Our Beloved Savior – she remains with the Virgin Mary at the foot of the cross during the whole course of Jesus’ bloody Passion until Jesus’ dying breath and beyond. Like the Magdalene’s encounter with Jesus, may our Daily Holy Hour have a life-changing impact on our lives! Like Magdalene, let us pledge our whole selves to renouncing our sinful past and renewing our commitment to follow Jesus and the Blessed Virgin Mary totally and without any reservation!
5. PIETA. When Jesus is taken down from the cross and placed in the arms of His Beloved Mother Mary, the Magdalene is present. She shares in all the sorrows of Mary. In the film of Mel Gibson, Our Lady and the Magdalen wiped up with towels the pools of Precious Blood that poured forth from Jesus’ Body during His brutal scourging. Now Magdalene contemplates the crucified Body of Jesus in the arms of Mary. She accompanies Our Lady to the tomb where the Body of Jesus will be buried before the Sabbath rest. Once again, we see true faithfulness, a heart-felt conversion of heart, when Magdalene stays with Jesus and Mary in these most trying moments of suffering, death and seeming defeat! May our lives be characterized by love and faithfulness to God until the end, no matter how dark and turbulent the storms!
6. EARLY SUNDAY MORNING AND THE TOMB. Friday night has passed and so has Saturday night. The Magdalene decides to rise early Sunday morning to visit the tomb where Jesus is buried, so she can show her respect and love by anointing the Body of Jesus with special oils. However, upon arriving, the Magdalene notices something strange, out of place you might even say! The tomb of Jesus had been covered with a huge stone; now the stone has been rolled back! Drawing close to see this phenomenon, Magdalene sees angels at the tomb! Turning around, Mary Magdalene sees a man she doesn’t recognize and she thinks this man is the gardener. With courage, she asks the gardener to give her the Body of Jesus. To Mary’s surprise, it is not the gardener! When Jesus cries out “Mary,”… she recognizes Him and responds “Rabboni!” – meaning teacher!
7. Jesus sends her to the Apostles, so that Mary Magdalene can become “An Apostle to the Apostles”. She runs, filled with Easter joy, to tell the Good News that she has seen the Risen Jesus! Indeed, Jesus is no longer dead but has risen from the dead! Death could not hold Jesus bound. Jesus broke the bonds of death by the power of His Love! Jesus has truly risen, Alleluia! Enter into this scene and rejoice with Mary Magdalene as she meets Jesus who truly rose from the dead, never to die again. Jesus came to bring us life and life in abundance. Jesus is THE WAY, THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE! Beg Jesus to give you intense joy and life in abundance in this life, as well as in the next!!
8. FAILURE TO RECOGNIZE JESUS. An interesting note about the Resurrection appearances is that they fail to recognize Jesus. He appears to them but their eyes are blinded from seeing and recognizing the Lord. This happens on more than one occasion. The Magdalene believes that Jesus is the gardener! She hopes that this “gardener” will tell her where the body of Jesus is so that she can take it away.
9. EMMAUS Later in the afternoon that same day, two of the disciples are heading to a village called Emmaus. Discouraged, depressed, in a real state of desolation, they are walking away from Jerusalem, from the Church. They were hoping that Jesus would be the one to truly set them free! Now their hopes have been dashed. A “stranger” comes and walks with them. He listens to them and speaks with them as friends do! He explains the Scriptures to them, opening their minds to the truth. It is not until He sits down with them at table, takes bread, blesses it, breaks it and gives it to them that they finally recognize this is Jesus! Like Mary Magdalene, their eyes – blinded, prevented from seeing and recognizing the Lord – are opened!
10. FAILURE TO SEE AND RECOGNIZE JESUS. Jesus appears to the fishermen. After they have fished all night without catching anything, the stranger on the shore, who truly loves them and cares for them, tells them to cast the net on the other side of the boat. What an enormous catch!!! Only then does “Eagle eye” John recognize Him exclaiming, “It is the Lord!”
DO WE FAIL TO RECOGNIZE THE LORD??? Now let us apply this reality to ourselves with humility and sincerity. How often has the Lord been truly present in us, in our lives, and like Magdalene, like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, like the fishermen, we have failed to recognize Him? Could it be true that we also suffer from spiritual blindness?
Maybe the Lord is before our eyes, is among us now, and we simply do not see Him. Indeed, God is truly present everywhere; we cannot escape from His Presence, even though at times we might try to hide from Him! Pray for spiritual eyes to be able to see and have a more constant awareness of the presence of God in your life! As Saint Paul says in one of his letters: “In Him we live and move and have our being.”
Let us end with a colloquy/prayer to Jesus the Lord, His Mother, and God the Father:
Lord Jesus, I praise and thank you for dying on the cross and rising to new life for me. May I look to your countenance as I encounter you in daily prayer and rejoice constantly in your Presence.
Holy Mary, Mother of the Risen Lord, cause of our joy, pray for me now and at the hour of my death.
God the Father, I praise and thank you for so loving me that you gave your Only Begotten Son for my Redemption on the Cross, renewed each time I receive Him in Holy Communion! May I honor, love and obey your Holy Will in my life!