22 July – Memorial for St. Mary Magdalen
There is actually very little solid information about her, 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 the first to have been visited by the Risen Christ. While there are several 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.
Some things we do know for certain – Mary wasn’t Jesus’ wife or mistress, she wasn’t the mother of His child, and she didn’t found a royal dynasty or separate branch of Christianity.
– Patron Saint Index
2 Corinthians 5:14-17
The love of Christ overwhelms us when we reflect that if one man has died for all, then all men should be dead; and the reason he died for all was so that living men should live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised to life for them.
From now onwards, therefore, we do not judge anyone by the standards of the flesh. Even if we did once know Christ in the flesh, that is not how we know him now. And for anyone who is in Christ, there is a new creation; the old creation has gone, and now the new one is here.
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.
The old creation has gone, and now the new one is here.
In the early days of my advertising career, I was like a sponge, soaking up whatever I could in terms of technical know-how because I was a novice in terms of what went on in the studio. Then, as I began to establish myself, a certain level of pride began to set in. I told myself that I was developing my own style and that others had to learn to understand where I was coming from. In a competitive environment where teams are pitted against each other in order to have their ideas presented to clients, my ego began to take over.
Naturally, I was brought crashing down to earth more than a few times and the phrase ‘the higher they climb, the harder they fall’ became a reality. Eventually, when I started my own small business, I learnt that in order to do well, I had to learn to be more humble and less obstinate. For me, it was a balancing act between fighting for my ideas and winning a piece of business or even the client’s trust. What I learnt as well was to learn to trust my feelings a lot more when it came to interactions with others. That stood me in good stead for when I moved to Dubai and had to deal with a variety of very ‘emotional’ people.
Even then, I had not yet encountered Jesus and was basing my judgment of people purely on whether I liked them or not and whether they could do something for me, at work or outside of work. It was very much transactional and a ‘zero sum game’ – you do something for me, I do something or you. At the same time, I developed very close friendships with a few others who were genuinely nice people. I also opened myself up to betrayal from colleagues, subordinates and even a close friend.
As I look back on the past few years, a new me has emerged. And after my encounters with Jesus at various retreats, I can happily reveal that it has been a 180-degree change in terms of my priorities in life. I know that this would not have been humanly possible as the old ‘me’ would probably have carried on living a meaningless, empty life based on what I owned and who I was seen with. In fact, he would look at me now and likely not bother to give me the time of day.
Brothers and sisters, like Mary in today’s gospel, we sometimes need an encounter with Jesus in order to wake up and realise what is truly important in our lives. I pray that each of us arises each day with an open heart, ready to encounter Christ when he calls us by name. Because only then will we be able to start living as new creations in His likeness. And to run to others telling them about who our Lord and Saviour truly is.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Desmond Soon)
Prayer: Dear Lord, we pray for the gift of an open heart each day so that we may receive you at the door when you come knocking.
Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord for making us new each day.