Friday, 22 July 2022 : Feast of St. Mary Magdalene, Apostle of the Apostles (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the Feast of St. Mary Magdalene, a prominent disciple of the Lord who was described throughout the Gospels as one of the closest woman collaborators of the Lord, who travelled together with the other disciples and who was present during the important moments especially surrounding the Lord’s Passion, His suffering, death and resurrection. St. Mary Magdalene was also known to be the one to have seen the Lord the first among the disciples after He was risen from the dead. In that way therefore, she was the one to deliver the truth of this Good News to the disciples.

Hence, that is why the Church has always treated St. Mary Magdalene as an equal to the Apostles or Isapostolos, counted among the great saints whose prominence and honour in the Church are considered equivalent to those given to the Twelve Apostles and the other Apostles. Pope Francis, our current Pope raised the celebration of St. Mary Magdalene from a Memorial rank to that of a Feast a few years ago, in order to reflect this nature, and he also referred to her by her well-known title of Apostola Apostolorum, or the ‘Apostle to the Apostles’. This is a reference to what I just mentioned earlier, that St. Mary Magdalene was the one to bring the Good News of the Resurrection to the Apostles.

Just as the other Apostles were sent forth by the Lord to spread the Good News, the Gospels of truth and love of God to all the peoples of the whole world, hence St. Mary Magdalene prefigured all of that, by her role in bringing the same revelation of truth to the disciples, to the Apostles and all those assembled and waiting in uncertainty and fear after the Lord had been condemned to death and crucified. St. Mary Magdalene was the one to whom the Lord appeared first, to bring this Good News of hope and encouragement to the Apostles, and to remind them that He was truly risen from the dead just as He Himself had predicted and revealed earlier on.

St. Mary Magdalene was indeed a truly great saint and servant of God, but if we look upon her origin and background, according to various traditions and Scriptural evidences, we can see that she was far from the ideal disciple that we may think that she must have been. St. Mary Magdalene was often conflated with another woman who had been caught in the act of adultery, or that of a prostitute and sinner, and in one of the Gospels, it was explicitly mentioned that she had seven demons or evil spirits driven out from her by the Lord, which strengthened the link between her and her less than ideal origin.

Regardless whether she was an immoral woman or prostitute in her earlier life, or whether she was just another ordinary woman out of many at the time, that was not important. What matters was that, St. Mary Magdalene chose to leave behind her past life, flawed and terrible as it might have been, and instead followed the Lord wholeheartedly as a disciple. She followed the Lord faithfully, even when the other disciples fled after He was arrested at the time of His Passion and suffering and death. She was among the ones who waited on the Lord, together with His mother Mary, as He laid dying on the Cross.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, the examples of St. Mary Magdalene, her faith and dedication to God, all that she had done and the commitment she had made to the Lord should be good inspiration for all of us to follow. Her conversion and then commitment as a faithful servant of God is an inspiration and hope for each one of us, that God has called all to be His disciples, and not even the greatest sinners are excluded from the path to salvation and eternal life. What matters is for each one of us to recognise our sinful ways and to return to the Lord with contrite hearts and with the openness to embrace His way and truth.

Like St. Mary Magdalene, even many of the other greatest saints of the Church were once sinners, and some of them committed great sins previously in their respective lives. Yet, what made them to be respected and venerated greatly later on were their commitment to change their lives and in embracing the path that the Lord had shown them. They responded to God’s call and were converted to the true path of God. The Lord was with them and He brought them to the right path, and through them He did many wonderful and great deeds, because those saints allowed Him to lead them on in their lives that they became His greatest disciples and servants.

All of us have also received the same calling, and all that remains is for us to respond to God’s call. It is completely up to us how we shall respond to Him and how we are to follow the path that God has shown us. Each one of us have been given various opportunities and chances to do God’s will, and even the smallest and seemingly less significant things that we do actually have a great impact way beyond our imagination. We are all called to do our part as Christians, to be the examples and inspirations to all our brothers and sisters, that by our good examples, as St. Mary Magdalene herself had done with hers, we may bring the truth and Good News of God to more and more people out there.

May the Lord continue to guide us and strengthen us, and may He bless us in our every good works and endeavours. St. Mary Magdalene, holy disciple and follower of the Lord, the Apostle to the Apostles, pray for us all! Amen.

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