July 22, 2010
John 20: 1 – 18
The Gospel read on this feast of Mary Magdalen recalls the encounter between the Risen Christ and the penitent woman. It is one of the most poignant in the New Testament. Jesus calls her by name and it is at this point precisely that Mary recognizes who He is.
This Post Resurrection visit is the culmination of a series of visits between Christ and the repentant sinner. Yet, we must ask why the church has placed the Feast on the Liturgical Calendar. Of what special importance is it?
A careful consideration of these questions helps us understand that the life of Mary Magdalene contains many timely lessons for each of us at the beginning of the twenty-first century.
Ours is a period of personal “sin-less-ness”, “perfection”, and “flawlessness.” Many of our contemporaries share this view that none of us can do any wrong. On occasion, one might admit to “perhaps the possibility of making a mistake or two,” but little else!
But Divine Revelation calls us back to the truth and shows us throughout the pages of Sacred Scripture that man is most certainly a sinner. Such an admission should not be the cause for anguish or despair. On the contrary: the Incarnation, the Passion, Death and the Resurrection of Jesus is precisely our path to repentance, conversion, contrition and personal holiness.
The life of Mary Magdalene reflects this truth and it is particularly personal. But the penitent woman is not alone. Countless others have followed this path. Some are very well-known; others, less well-known; still others known only to God and their confessor.
When we receive the Sacrament of Penance, when we “go to confession,” we too, encounter the Risen Christ. We too, hear again the words of Jesus: Peace be to you. Your sins are forgiven.
May each of us, through the intercession of Saint Mary Magdalene, come to a renewed understanding of this Sacramental encounter with Christ, and approach it frequently in a spirit of hope and serenity.