22 July – Memorial of Saint Mary Magdalen
We have very little solid information about Saint Mary, and both scholars and traditions differ on the interpretation of what we do know.
She was a friend and follower of Jesus. Filled with sorrow over her sin, she anointed Christ, washed his feet with her hair. He exorcised seven demons from her. She was visited by the Risen Christ.
There are also arguments about her life after the Crucifixion.
The Greek Church maintains that she retired to Ephesus with the Blessed Virgin Mary and lived there the rest of her life.
A French tradition says that Mary, Lazarus, and some companions came to Marseilles, France, evangelized and converted the whole Provence region, and then retired to live 30 years as a penitent hermitess at La Sainte-Baume.
Oh, some things we do know for certain – Mary wasn’t Jesus’ wife or mistress, she wasn’t the mother of His child, she didn’t found a royal dynasty or separate branch of Christianity, et cetera, et cetera, ad nauseam.
– The Patron Saint Index
When Pharaoh, king of Egypt, was told that the Israelites had made their escape, he and his courtiers changed their minds about the people. ‘What have we done,’ they said ‘allowing Israel to leave our service?’ So Pharaoh had his chariot harnessed and gathered his troops about him, taking six hundred of the best chariots and all the other chariots in Egypt, each manned by a picked team. The Lord made Pharaoh, king of Egypt, stubborn, and he gave chase to the sons of Israel as they made their triumphant escape. So the Egyptians gave chase and came up with them where they lay encamped beside the sea – all the horses, the chariots of Pharaoh, his horsemen, his army – near Pi-hahiroth, facing Baal-zephon. And as Pharaoh approached, the sons of Israel looked round – and there were the Egyptians in pursuit of them!
The sons of Israel were terrified and cried out to the Lord. To Moses they said, ‘Were there no graves in Egypt that you must lead us out to die in the wilderness? What good have you done us, bringing us out of Egypt? We spoke of this in Egypt, did we not? Leave us alone, we said, we would rather work for the Egyptians! Better to work for the Egyptians than die in the wilderness!’
Moses answered the people, ‘Have no fear! Stand firm, and you will see what the Lord will do to save you today: the Egyptians you see today, you will never see again. The Lord will do the fighting for you: you have only to keep still.’
The Lord said to Moses, ‘Why do you cry to me so? Tell the sons of Israel to march on. For yourself, raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea and part it for the sons of Israel to walk through the sea on dry ground. I for my part will make the heart of the Egyptians so stubborn that they will follow them. So shall I win myself glory at the expense of Pharaoh, of all his army, his chariots, his horsemen. And when I have won glory for myself, at the expense of Pharaoh and his chariots and his army, the Egyptians will learn that I am the Lord.’
It was very early on the first day of the week and still dark, when Mary of Magdala came to the tomb. She saw that the stone had been moved away from the tomb and came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved. ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb’ she said ‘and we don’t know where they have put him.’
Meanwhile Mary stayed outside near the tomb, weeping. Then, still weeping, she stooped to look inside, and saw two angels in white sitting where the body of Jesus had been, one at the head, the other at the feet. They said, ‘Woman, why are you weeping?’ ‘They have taken my Lord away’ she replied ‘and I don’t know where they have put him.’ As she said this she turned round and saw Jesus standing there, though she did not recognise him. Jesus said, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? Who are you looking for?’ Supposing him to be the gardener, she said, ‘Sir, if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and remove him.’ Jesus said, ‘Mary!’ She knew him then and said to him in Hebrew, ‘Rabbuni!’ – which means Master. Jesus said to her, ‘Do not cling to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go and find the brothers, and tell them: I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ So Mary of Magdala went and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord and that he had said these things to her.
Have no fear! Stand firm, and you will see what the Lord will do to save you today
The fear which some of us experience in our daily lives are legitimate expressions of what we feel are concerns which matter to us. However, if we probe deeper into the origin of the fear, we will discover that the fear represents perhaps not a response to the matter but maybe another emotion that we are afraid to let others see. The readings of today will guide us in understanding how we can overcome this fear.
The Israelites in the first reading of today have demonstrated a short term memory and forgot the miserable life which they had in their time in Egypt. Moses had to remind them of the importance of holding firm in their faith and to continue to trust God. This episode is indicative of some of the situations which we may encounter in our lives. As we go about our lives, we often hope for the good old days and wish that we could go back to the days where we did not face too much difficulty or issues.
Jesus wants us to put all our faith in Him. The reason why He was upset with the Pharisees was because they refused to have the faith to believe in Him. How many signs would be required for them to finally believe? Clearly there was a stubbornness within their heart which grieved Jesus tremendously. Let us take time to reflect and discover what it means to trust in God.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Nicholas Chia)
Prayer: Dear Lord, we pray for sincerity and devotion of heart.
Thanksgiving: We give thanks for those who help dispel fear in our hearts.