Wednesday, 22 July 2020 : Feast of St. Mary Magdalene, Apostle of the Apostles (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day all of us celebrate the Feast of St. Mary Magdalene, one of the most prominent follower of the Lord and considered as an equal of the Twelve Apostles. Ever since the Year of Our Lord 2016, this celebration which was initially a Memorial in the General Roman Calendar had been elevated to the rank of Feast, and acknowledgement of St. Mary Magdalene as a very important figure in the Church as the Apostle of the Apostles.

This brings us to the question, ‘What is an Apostle?’ The word Apostle itself came from the Greek word ‘Apostolos’ or ‘one that is sent off’ with the emphasis on the action of being sent off for a particular purpose and mission. Therefore, an Apostle is someone who had been called and entrusted with important assignment, and has also therefore been sent forth to fulfil that assignment. This is opposed to the term ‘disciple’ which has the connotation and meaning of a follower, that may or may not have that specific mission of being sent off to fulfil the mission of God.

And this is significant because as we know and which our Gospel passage reminded us today, it was St. Mary Magdalene who first saw the Lord after His Resurrection, and she initially grieved over the fact that the Body of the Lord had disappeared, thinking that the Body had been stolen and not realising that He had risen from the dead. And when the Lord appeared before her, she believed in Him and she did what the Lord said to her, ‘Go to My brothers and say to them, I am ascending to My Father, Who is your Father, to My God, Who is your God.’

That was how St. Mary Magdalene then went to the Twelve Apostles and the other disciples, delivering to them the news of the Lord’s Resurrection, how everything He had said would happen came true. This is why St. Mary Magdalene is the Apostle of the Apostles, as she was the one who delivered the truth and the Good News to the Apostles. She was the one sent off by the Lord to be the first to bear the Good News to others. Through her, the Apostles came to know of the Lord’s resurrection.

This is why St. Mary Magdalene is such an important person and a significant influence in the history of the Church. But this is not just because she had been the first to see the Risen Lord and brought this news to the Apostles, but even more significantly, if we had seen how she had been transformed from someone whom no one would have thought to be worth saving or even worth a look. By Church and Apostolic traditions, St. Mary Magdalene was often associated with the woman from whom the Lord had cast out seven demons, and others also associated her to the repentant prostitute.

Regardless, Church traditions and history agreed that St. Mary Magdalene had been greatly transformed by her faith in the Lord and her life was changed after she followed the Lord and abandoned her past life of sin. Here was a great sinner whom the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law would have been very quick in condemning as those who were unworthy and sinful before God. Yet, as we know, she did not just have great transformation in life, but was entrusted to be the first to know the truth of the Lord’s Resurrection.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we listened to the words of the Scripture today and remember the life and contributions of St. Mary Magdalene, we are brought to attention to the important fact that each and every one of us also have the potential and opportunity to be like her, to follow her example and her conviction and desire in serving the Lord. We are also sinners just like her, and regardless whether our sins are great or small, sin is still sin and sin is a stumbling block in our path towards eternal life and true joy in Christ.

But as St. Mary Magdalene showed us, that there is indeed no saint without a past, and no sinner without a future. Saints like St. Mary Magdalene were also sinners just like us, and they were also human and erred just as we have also erred and made mistakes in life. What is important and what truly mattered was that they listened to the Lord and embraced His love and mercy when He called on them, and they turned their back to sin and lived a virtuous and just life from then on.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today all of us are therefore called to look through our lives and see how we can follow in the footsteps of St. Mary Magdalene, turn ourselves towards God and sin no more. We are called to be inspired by her faith and love for God, also showed by the other holy men and women of God, the saints and martyrs. Let us strive to commit ourselves to a new life and existence, one that is no longer controlled by sin. And let us also proclaim the love and truth of God by our lives, that more and more people will come to believe in God, just as St. Mary Magdalene helped to inspire faith in the Apostles.

May the Lord be with us and may He help us to get out of the temptation of sin, just as He had once showed mercy and love for St. Mary Magdalene. May He strengthen each and every one of us that we may be able to live in a renewed existence with ever greater faith. May God bless us all, now and always. Amen.

Wednesday, 22 July 2020 : Feast of St. Mary Magdalene, Apostle of the Apostles (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 20 : 1-2, 11-18

Now, on the first day after the Sabbath, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning while it was still dark, and she saw that the stone blocking the tomb had been moved away. She ran to Peter, and the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and she said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb and we do not know where they have laid Him.”

Mary stood weeping outside the tomb; and as she wept, she bent down to look inside. She saw two Angels in white, sitting where the Body of Jesus had been, one at the head, and the other at the feet. They said, “Woman, why are you weeping?”

She answered, “Because they have taken my Lord and I do not know where they have put Him.” As she said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not recognise Him. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Who are you looking for?”

She thought it was the gardener and answered Him, “Lord, if You have taken Him away, tell me where You have put Him, and I will go and remove Him.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned, and said to Him, “Rabboni!” – which means Master. Jesus said to her, “Do not touch Me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to My brothers and say to them : I am ascending to My Father, Who is your Father, to My God, Who is your God.”

So Mary of Magdala went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord, and this is what He said to me.”

Wednesday, 22 July 2020 : Feast of St. Mary Magdalene, Apostle of the Apostles (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 62 : 2abc, 2d-4, 5-6, 8-9

O God, You are my God, it is You I seek; for You, my body longs and my soul thirsts.

As a dry and weary land without water. Thus have I gazed upon You in the Sanctuary, to see Your power and Your glory. Your love is better than life, my lips will glorify You.

I will praise You as long as I live, lift up my hands and call on Your Name. As with the richest food, my soul will feast; my mouth will praise You with joyful lips.

For You have been my help; I sing in the shadow of Your wings. My soul clings to You; Your right hand upholds me.

Wednesday, 22 July 2020 : Feast of St. Mary Magdalene, Apostle of the Apostles (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Song of Songs 3 : 1-4a

On my bed at night I looked for the one I love, I sought him without finding him; I called him and he did not answer. I will rise and go about the city, through the streets and the squares; I will seek the love of my heart…

I sought him without finding him; the watchmen came upon me, those who patrol the city. “Have you seen the love of my heart?” As soon as I left them, I found the love of my heart.

Alternative reading

2 Corinthians 5 : 14-17

Indeed, the love of Christ holds us, and we realise, that, if He died for all, all have died. He died for all, so, that, those who live, may live no longer for themselves, but for Him, Who died, and rose again for them. And so, from now on, we do not regard anyone from a human point of view; and even if we once knew Christ personally, we should now regard Him in another way.

For that same reason, the one who is in Christ is a new creature. For him, the old things have passed away; a new world has come.

Monday, 22 July 2019 : Feast of St. Mary Magdalene (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the feast of one of the great disciples and followers of Our Lord Jesus Christ, one who is often considered to be an equal to the Twelve Apostles of the Lord, and one who has followed Him through much of His ministry ever since He called her from her past life, and she was also prominently mentioned in quite a few parts throughout the Gospels.

Today’s feast of St. Mary Magdalene, holy woman and devout disciple of the Lord Jesus reminds us of the great transformation that has happened to the life of this woman, who according to some Apostolic traditions and Scripture, was a sinner who lived a life of sin and debauchery, and the Lord Himself cast out many demons out of her. St. Mary Magdalene was known thereafter as a very dedicated follower of the Lord.

In all of these, we can see how God transformed the life of this woman, from someone who was sinful and corrupted into someone who is truly exemplary in faith and worthy of being an inspiration to many other Christians throughout the ages. In St. Mary Magdalene we see someone who has welcomed the Lord into her heart and into her life, allowing Him to work wonders in her and through her.

On this day, all of us are called to reflect on our own lives, and see how each and every one of us have lived them thus far. Many of us may not realise that the story of St. Mary Magdalene is actually not different from our own stories, her life being similar to our own lives in one way or another. We must not have the misconception of thinking of her as a wretched being whom God miraculously rescued and made clean, or that what she has done is impossible for us to emulate.

Many of us tended to take two extreme positions, both of which led us to the failure in appreciating the significance of St. Mary Magdalene, her examples and her faith. On one side, we look down on her as a sinful woman, whom God saved through mercy and pity, and therefore failing to realise that those same sins she had committed, are the very same sins that have corrupted us and which we ourselves have committed in one way or another.

On the other extreme, we may think that our sins are so severe and terrible that we cannot be forgiven by God, or that God is angry with us and our sins, and will exact punishment and destruction upon us because of those sins. This is called despair, brothers and sisters in Christ, and we must never despair before God. For God’s love for each and every one of us is so great and powerful that not even the greatest of sins can hold against His love, as long as we are fully repentant of our sins.

We must remember and indeed realise that many of the saints whom we venerate and glorify today were themselves sinners, and some among them were in fact infamous for their terrible sins. Some were murderers, while others were adulterers and unfaithful, worshipping pagan idols and gods, or performed wicked and selfish actions in their lives. But what were common among all of them is the fact that all of them repented and turned away from their sins.

They followed in the example of St. Mary Magdalene, who left behind her past life to follow God with all of her heart, which can be summed up in a way through what we have heard in our first reading passage today from the Book of Song of Songs. In that Book, the writer described a great longing and desire for God, which surpassed everything else, born from a genuine and true love for God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as I have just mentioned earlier, each and every one of us must realise and appreciate just how great God’s love is for us. He looks for us and desires for us to be reconciled with Him, and went out all the way to find us, like a Good Shepherd looking for all of us, His lost sheep, scattered in the darkened world due to our sins. And we must also remember how He endured the most bitter and painful of sufferings and pains, on the Cross, for the sake of our salvation.

Therefore, if God has loved us so much, should we not love Him in the same way then? St. Mary Magdalene had shown us her own good example, in her faith and commitment, in her genuine love for the Lord, leaving behind all traces of sin and disobedience behind her. Are we willing and able to make the commitment to do the same before God? Are we able to persist through the many temptations to sin in life?

Let us all pray that God may be moved and through the intercession of St. Mary Magdalene, that each and every one of us will realise how generous God’s love and compassionate mercy is, that we do not give in to despair, but remain hopeful in His love and merciful forgiveness. May the Lord also continue to guide us as we journey in our lives towards His grace and salvation. Amen.

Monday, 22 July 2019 : Feast of St. Mary Magdalene (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 20 : 1-2, 11-18

Now, on the first day after the Sabbath, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning while it was still dark, and she saw that the stone blocking the tomb had been moved away. She ran to Peter, and the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and she said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb and we do not know where they have laid Him.”

Mary stood weeping outside the tomb; and as she wept, she bent down to look inside. She saw two Angels in white, sitting where the Body of Jesus had been, one at the head, and the other at the feet. They said, “Woman, why are you weeping?”

She answered, “Because they have taken my Lord and I do not know where they have put Him.” As she said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not recognise Him. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Who are you looking for?”

She thought it was the gardener and answered Him, “Lord, if You have taken Him away, tell me where You have put Him, and I will go and remove Him.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned, and said to Him, “Rabboni!” – which means Master. Jesus said to her, “Do not touch Me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to My brothers and say to them : I am ascending to My Father, Who is your Father, to My God, Who is your God.”

So Mary of Magdala went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord, and this is what He said to me.”

Monday, 22 July 2019 : Feast of St. Mary Magdalene (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 62 : 2abc, 2d-4, 5-6, 8-9

O God, You are my God, it is You I seek; for You, my body longs and my soul thirsts.

As a dry and weary land without water. Thus have I gazed upon You in the Sanctuary, to see Your power and Your glory. Your love is better than life, my lips will glorify You.

I will praise You as long as I live, lift up my hands and call on Your Name. As with the richest food, my soul will feast; my mouth will praise You with joyful lips.

For You have been my help; I sing in the shadow of Your wings. My soul clings to You; Your right hand upholds me.

Monday, 22 July 2019 : Feast of St. Mary Magdalene (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Song of Songs 3 : 1-4a

On my bed at night I looked for the one I love, I sought him without finding him; I called him and he did not answer. I will rise and go about the city, through the streets and the squares; I will seek the love of my heart…

I sought him without finding him; the watchmen came upon me, those who patrol the city. “Have you seen the love of my heart?” As soon as I left them, I found the love of my heart.

Alternative reading

2 Corinthians 5 : 14-17

Indeed, the love of Christ holds us, and we realise, that, if He died for all, all have died. He died for all, so, that, those who live, may live no longer for themselves, but for Him, Who died, and rose again for them. And so, from now on, we do not regard anyone from a human point of view; and even if we once knew Christ personally, we should now regard Him in another way.

For that same reason, the one who is in Christ is a new creature. For him, the old things have passed away; a new world has come.

Saturday, 22 July 2017 : Feast of St. Mary Magdalene (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate the feast day of St. Mary Magdalene, a woman who was prominently featured and mentioned in the Holy Gospels, as one of the women who accompanied Jesus our Lord in His earthly ministry. It was told through the accounts of the Scriptures and by tradition, that St. Mary Magdalene was the woman from whom our Lord Jesus cast out seven demons, and who was also often associated with a former life as a prostitute and sinner.

In the story of St. Mary Magdalene, we saw the great story of conversion, from her former life filled with sin, wickedness and evil, into a new life filled with faith, devotion and commitment to God. As we can see and witness for ourselves, St. Mary Magdalene was henceforth after her conversion, a true disciple of the Lord, often accompanying Him on His journeys, and even walking alongside Mary, the Mother of our God, to the foot of the cross at Calvary.

She was also the one who witnessed the Lord's Resurrection firsthand, being the first one to whom Jesus our Lord revealed Himself after He had risen from the dead. St. Mary Magdalene therefore occupied a great position of honour among the saints and the disciples of the Lord, for her dedication to the Lord and for her faith. She is for us, an example and inspiration, of how all of us mankind, the people of God, can become, if we are truly changed by our interactions with the Lord.

All of us often forget this simple fact, as we reflect on the life and works of St. Mary Magdalene, that God wants from us conversion and change, a sincere repentance and turning back, away completely from our sins and from all of our past failures. We often thought that God is loving and merciful, and that He would forgive us all our sins. But is that the truth? No, God is indeed loving and merciful towards us, because He loves us, but He despises our sins, wickedness and disobedience.

He wants us to be wholly and thoroughly changed, by our conversion and change in attitude, as exemplified by St. Mary Magdalene in how God transformed her life. Jesus our Lord has also often mentioned to the sinners He had healed and encountered, to 'sin no more' and also to obey the Lord from then on. This is what many of us often overlooked, that in order for us to be thoroughly healed from our sins and to be reconciled with God perfectly, we must embark on the painful and difficult path of conversion, where effort is needed for us to remain true to the Lord in faith.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us spend some time to reflect on ourselves, on our lives and on how we have lived our lives thus far. Are we walking in the same path that St. Mary Magdalene had walked through? Or are we instead distancing ourselves further from God because of our sins and our refusal to turn away from those sins? It is time for us to realise that unless we do something with our lives, we are always at risk of falling into eternal damnation and the suffering prepared for the devil and all those who have been deemed unworthy by God.

God has given us many opportunities in order to redeem ourselves and find our way back to Him. He has shown Himself to St. Mary Magdalene first before all other of His disciples, in a very deeply symbolic meaning of the resurrection, which He shares with all of us who have decided to leave behind our life of sin and darkness behind, and embrace the new light of Christ, His love and mercy.

Through our baptism, we have been made to share in the death of Christ, as our old and past selves are forever cast away through water that destroyed our old lives filled with sin, and then the same water of baptism bring with it a new life, as life-giving water which God gives to us, sharing in the resurrection of our Lord as we receive this new life granted to us. St. Mary Magdalene had accepted her part, and we should also do the same as well.

We should find in ourselves the courage and the strength to do as St. Mary Magdalene had done, in her desire to love and to follow the Lord with all of her heart. We should be sincere and genuine in our faith, not just through mere words alone, but indeed through actions and deeds. We must seek out the Lord with all of our hearts and with all of our efforts.

Let us all draw therefore, closer to God and to His love. Let us embrace the loving sacrifice with which God had endeavoured to save us, through the ultimate sacrifice on the cross. And let us not forget, that there are many more people around us, who are also like Mary Magdalene before she was rescued by the Lord. Let us, through our faithful actions, bring the light of God and His salvation to them. May God bless us and remain with us always. Amen.

Saturday, 22 July 2017 : Feast of St. Mary Magdalene (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 20 : 1-2, 11-18

Now, on the first day after the Sabbath, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning while it was still dark, and she saw that the stone blocking the tomb had been moved away. She ran to Peter, and the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and she said to them, "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb and we do not know where they have laid Him."

Mary stood weeping outside the tomb; and as she wept, she bent down to look inside. She saw two Angels in white, sitting where the Body of Jesus had been, one at the head, and the other at the feet. They said, "Woman, why are you weeping?"

She answered, "Because they have taken my Lord and I do not know where they have put Him." As she said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not recognise Him. Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Who are you looking for?"

She thought it was the gardener and answered Him, "Lord, if You have taken Him away, tell me where You have put Him, and I will go and remove Him." Jesus said to her, "Mary!" She turned, and said to Him, "Rabboni!" – which means Master. Jesus said to her, "Do not touch Me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to My brothers and say to them : I am ascending to My Father, Who is your Father, to My God, Who is your God."

So Mary of Magdala went and announced to the disciples, "I have seen the Lord, and this is what He said to me."