A few days back, we celebrated the feast of St Mary Magdalene. Who is she? The sinful woman from whom seven evil spirits were driven out by Jesus or the prostitute whom Jesus saved from being stoned to death or the woman who anointed Jesus or the one who washed Jesus' feet with her tears or in more recent times the one who is wrongly being portrayed as wife of Jesus? For me, when I look at her, I see just one thing: a sinner who received the Saviour’s touch! And that’s what draws me to her; that’s how I relate to her.
In her I see someone who was drawn and bound by the powers of sin so strong that she is referred to as being possessed by not one or two but seven evil spirits! When I think of her, I can imagine her struggling to break free from the force of sin so strong that it would have taken complete control of her, taken away from her the innocence of humanity, the joy and peace of belonging to God. I can imagine her being shunned away by the society, treated as an outcast, feared as a threat, distanced as an untouchable; I can imagine her longing to be accepted, thirsting to be loved, desiring to be joyful, hoping to be forgiven. And I believe she would have continued in this state of being, had she not come across Jesus – the Almighty powerful God of Heaven and Earth, the Creator of the Universe – but for her a Saviour, her “Rabboni”. He forgave her sins, wiped away her past, healed her inequity, cast out evil and gave her a new life. This new life – she accepted, nurtured and pursued, even against all odds. She resolved to do everything it takes to be with Jesus all through her life. During the Crucifixion of Jesus when all His disciples, except John, had deserted Him, Mary Magdalene was there. After His death and burial, when all of His followers were devastated and mourning, Mary Magdalene dared to go to His tomb and there she became the first one to witness His resurrection. The Lord of Lords and the King of Kings, gave her the privilege of becoming the Apostle of Apostles! She was faithful to Jesus and the Way of Life He called her to and that’s how she went from being a sinner to a Saint.
When I look back into my life, I realize that we have lots to learn from her. Just like her, we struggle with sin; we struggle to come out of its clutches. She came out of this pit of filth when she encountered Christ and resolved to never fall back in it again. What happens when we encounter Christ who is the “same yesterday and today and forever”? Do we let Him work in our lives, do we believe in His power to set us free, do we accept Him as our Saviour, do we follow the Way He shows us? Very often we set out on this path of holiness and purity, but we never stop looking back. Slightest opportunity and we make use of it to go back to our earlier ways. Slightest temptation and we lay down our arms. And this is where St Mary Magdalene challenges us through her life. She never lost sight of Jesus. She wasn’t afraid to follow Him along the Way of the Cross, she wouldn’t leave Him even at the sight of His heart- wrenching death, even despair and feeling of loss wouldn’t keep her away from going to His tomb. In those moments when He seemed to go farther away, she took all efforts to follow Him and to be with Him. Aren’t we supposed to do the same? In those moments when we do not experience God working in our lives, when we do not feel His presence, when we slowly drift away from Him; instead of being discouraged and helpless, we should take extra effort to come closer to God, to trust in God’s power and His ways, to resist evil and to strive to stand firm in our faith and in our relationship with Him. We see in Mary Magdalene, how a sinner’s resolve can make him/her a saint. If she can do it, so can we with God’s grace.
“So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore, do not let sin exercise dominion in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions. No longer present your members to sin as instruments of wickedness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and present your members to God as instruments of righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.” – Romans 6:11-14
St. Mary Magdelene, patron Saint of penitent sinners – Pray for us.