There is an Avenger Comic character called Magdalene. She has superhuman strength and stamina, and is armed with a power-lance which fires energy bolts and can open space warps. I envision Saint Mary Magdalene, a holy woman of strength and stamina, jolting the world with powerful energy bolts of the Holy Spirit and warping space as she opens the vision of God’s mercy and love. Isaiah 61, proclaimed by Jesus in the Synagogue when he began his public ministry, could also be words recited by Mary Magdalene as she rejoiced in God’s mercy, “I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness….”
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The identity of St. Mary Magdalene, controversial since the early Church, may be identified with three particular women, Mary Magdalene, a follower of our Lord (Jn 20:11-18); the anonymous penitent woman (Lk 7:36-50); and Mary of Bethany, the sister of Martha and Lazarus (Lk 10:38-42). She is mentioned fourteen times in the gospels. Standing close by the cross of Christ (John 19:25) she is mentioned five times in connection is with his death and Resurrection (Mark 16:9; John 20:1, 11, 16, 18). Without doubt she was utterly devoted to the Master. Her title Equal to the Apostles is bestowed as recognition of her proclamation and spread of Christianity that is comparable to that of the original apostles.
If she is the same Mary healed by Jesus from seven demons, we need her intercession as we struggle with the seven demons of pride, envy, wrath, avarice, sloth, gluttony, and lust (Luke 8:2). She readily admitted that by her own power she could not be rid of these sins. Jesus alone was her salvation. Mary must have known the biblical proverb, “By steadfast love and faithfulness iniquity is atoned for” (Proverbs 16:6). “Her many sins have been forgiven, because she has loved so abundantly,” Jesus announced (Luke 7:47). St. Peter remembered these words when he wrote, “Above all, love each other deeply, because love pardons a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8).
Perhaps she is Mary called Magdalene who generously broke open a jar of precious aromatic oil in a lavish act of love. Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done shall be spoken of in memory of her” (Matthew 26:13, Mark 14:9).
Is this the same Mary listening to Jesus as she sat as his feet while her sister Martha prepared a meal? In that moment Jesus invited her to remain sitting. For a woman to be taught at the feet of a Rabbi was something unheard of. She was already at that moment equal to the apostles. We do know that this is the Mary who was at the foot of the cross, staying there with steadfast stamina. As a saintly avenger she continued to pour out her love as evil surrendered to the salvation at hand. When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. Jesus foretold his anointing by a woman (Mary) who bountifully poured sweet smelling nard over him, “Leave her, she has done it to prepare me for burial” (Matt. 26:12).
Mary Magdalene discovered the risen Jesus in the garden. There he called her by name and sent her to proclaim the good news. “I will give you hidden treasures, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, who summons you by name” (Isaiah 45:3). There she replied, “In the secret of my heart teach me wisdom (Christ)” (Psalm 51).
Jesus, our manna hidden in the Eucharist,
in whom we are baptized and
given the new name of Christian,
we sometimes cry as Mary Magdalene
“I don’t know where they have laid him!”
as if you have been misplaced by our secular cares
or abandoned us in our search for you.
Call us by name, give us a steadfast and
lavish love for you and so for others.
St. Mary Magdalene teach us your generosity
And trust in God’s covenant faithfulness.
Teach us in this time of mercy how to live
In continual conversion.
Be with us as we sit at the feet of our Rabboni Jesus
And take us by the hand as we “return to our brethren” (John 20:17)
With the good news entrusted to us.
Copyright 2016 Sister Margaret Kerry, fsp
About the Author
A Daughter of St. Paul for 40 years Sr. Margaret continues to pursue new ways to proclaim the Gospel: sharing the Pauline Charism with the laity, writing books (St. Anthony of Padua: Fire & Light; Strength in Darkness: John of the Cross; Prayers for the New Evangelization), & through direct evangelization. She is available for workshops on the Vocation & Mission of the Laity, Media Literacy, and The New Evangelization. firstname.lastname@example.org