A forward-looking Woman

– Feast of St Mary Magdalene –

Jesus said to her, “… go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her. [John 20:17-18]

Today is the Feast of St Mary Magdalene, a woman whose fidelity to Jesus throughout his public ministry has often been overshadowed by speculation about her life prior to meeting him (due to a suspicion that she’s the woman in Luke 7:37-50). While details pertaining to her former life are not necessarily unimportant, proper appreciation for her wholehearted dedication and service to the Lord is long overdue.

What we know for certain is that Mary had been possessed by seven demons (Luke 8:2-3), and it was presumably her liberation from these early on in Jesus’ ministry (perhaps in the events described in Mark 1:32-34, 39; Luke 4:40-41) that inspired her devotion to him and which caused her to follow and provide for him in Galilee and beyond (Lk 8:2-3).

Her devotion was such that, when Jesus was crucified, she was to be found standing by the cross alongside the other women (John 19:25). She then remained at the site to watch Jesus’ body being placed in the nearby tomb (Mt 27:61). And, of course, Mary was among the first to encounter the empty tomb and the risen Jesus on Easter Sunday morning (Jn 20:1-17). Finally, she was given the task of announcing the resurrection to the eleven disciples (Jn 20:17); an honour which saw her designated the “apostle to the apostles.”

It is clear from Mary Magdalene’s life that she was not a prisoner to her past demons, whatever they were. When Jesus freed her, she was truly liberated, and she lived her newfound freedom to the full. If you are weighed down by your old life and find yourself being tempted to fixate upon it, ask Jesus to set you free from your own (figurative) demons, and ask Mary Magdalene to help you embrace your new life in Christ.

by Mark Makowiecki

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