Wednesday, July 06, 2005


It was one of the most moving moments in all of Sacred Scripture. “She stood beside the tomb, weeping,” Saint John records. Mary Magdalene struck the figure of a soul sheathed in the agony of loss.

A few months earlier, in the house of Simon the Pharisee, Mary, The Penitent Woman, had anointed Our Savior’s feet. Now she would anoint His lifeless body. But the tomb was empty! His body was gone. Who had taken it? Mary was in a state of frenzy!

Suddenly, a voice broke the early morning still: "Woman, why are you weeping? Who is it that you are looking for?" It was the Lord! But, Mary, in her anguished tears, did not recognize Him. Thinking it was the gardener, she pleaded: "Sir, if you are the one who has carried Him off, tell me where you have laid Him and I will take Him away." Jesus responded with one electrifying word: "Mary!"

Who is this Mary who expressed such intense love for Jesus of Nazareth? Most Church Fathers believe that she is the sister of Martha and Lazarus, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Pious tradition buttresses this belief.

Lazarus and Martha were dear friends of Our Blessed Lord. Profoundly devout Israelites, they faithfully followed the Law of Moses. Mary, their youngest sister, suddenly went astray. With the recklessness of youth, she left home for the town of Magdala, located by the Sea of Galilee.

Because of its sunny, picturesque shores, Magdala was the playground of the wealthy. They flocked there with their riches in pursuit of pleasure and vice. With abandon, Mary plunged into the self-indulgence of this decadent city of sin. Because of her beauty and charm, she soon became known as Mary of Magdala. Seven demons, Saint Mark tells us, had possessed her. The hearts of Lazarus and Martha were broken.

Then one day Mary met the Lord. Perhaps it was merely a chance meeting. Perhaps, disillusioned in the frenzied world of her futile loves and paltry pleasures, she had sought Him out. However, when she met Jesus, He penetrated the shield of her sensitive, tormented soul. The gentle but firm eyes of the Savior of the World looked into Mary’s eyes. Filled with shame, she recalled the faith still lodged in her soul. With tears of repentance, Mary instantly became a disciple of Jesus Christ. The Good Shepherd had found His lost sheep. Never again would Mary Magdalene leave the Lord.

During this Year of the Eucharist, let us pray that Saint Mary Magdalene will help us to deepen our devotion to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Aside from our Blessed Mother herself, no one ever had a greater dedication to the Eucharist than did Mary Magdalene. Every time a priest, “Broke the Bread,” an indescribable devotion consumed her. Could anyone have understood the Eucharistic Sacrifice more than Mary Magdalene?

It is also significant that on her feast day the Church, at Evening Prayer, offers the prayer in honor of Virgins. Yes! Virgins! In the redeemed Body of Christ, great sinners can become great saints. Innocence lost can be found!

May this tremendous lover of Our Lord teach us true devotion to Jesus in the most holy Sacrament of the Altar. Saint Mary Magdalene! Pray for us sinners!

Father Richard J. Rego, S.T.L.


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