Wednesday, 22 July 2015

St Mary Magdalene - Penitent


Today we celebrate the Feast of a Saint who is important and inspiring because of her sheer humanity, and because of the miraculous change wrought in her life upon encountering Our Blessed Lord.

I could write for many hours about St. Mary Magdalene, so will try to limit this post to a few thoughts. Tradition holds that she was a prostitute, certainly Scripture refers to her as having an ill reputation. We can infer from the gospels that she was likely to have been at the more 'high class' end of her profession, if that is the right expression, rather than a common street-walker (otherwise, how come she was in possession of what Judas Iscariot reminds us was a very expensive perfumed ointment - possibly a gift from a wealthy punter, intended for her to use in her profession, perhaps for massaging said client... it is very easy to envisage the reality of her life). She was probably also, as we see in many present-day, so-called, celebrities, someone who courted notoriety, and traded on her sexual reputation, with the mistaken belief that she was having a good time, and in some way important, when, in reality, she was just being used by those who would gain a bit of quick pleasure, and then probably denigrate her in conversation afterwards. Then, suddenly into her life comes a man who doesn't see her in this way, who is interested in her soul rather than her body, and who can see the real beauty beneath the mask of flaunted sexuality, and He genuinely values her, and wants to give her a gift far greater than money or expensive scent - to see her enjoy eternal life in Heaven.

Though not a great fan of Lloyd-Weber's 'Jesus Christ, Superstar', I do like the song 'I don't know how to love Him', sung by the Mary Magdalene character in the musical, the lyrics of which seem to reflect a very natural response of a woman experiencing a spiritual awakening and real holy Charity after a life of sexual pseudo-love, and feeling both passion and confusion over what is happening.

And it is interesting to reflect that on His Resurrection, Our Lord shows Himself first, not to the priests or the supposedly important leaders of the people, but to Mary, an ex-prostitute, who once showed some insight that He was due to suffer and die at the hands of those by who He was then being feted, perhaps because she was herself only too aware of human fickleness and the metaphorical 'slap-down'; a woman who wept for Him, and who symbolically anointed Him for His burial. Tradition also holds that another penitent, Salome, was with her at the tomb when Christ appeared to them - presumably the same Salome, the former stripper, who had once been incited to become an accessory to the murder of His cousin. What a pair to be granted the gift of the first sight of the Word Made Flesh, God Incarnate, conquering death!

On this Feast, please pray for all those in this world currently caught up in some form of exploitation or sin due to sexuality, be it from their own poor choice, or from coercion or duress. In particular, of your charity pray for those men who have left, or are the process of leaving, priestly and Religious vocations due to the temptations of the flesh. I do not want to see even one soul consigned unnecessarily to the flames.

Domine, miserere nobis.

Sancta Maria Magdalena, ora pro nobis

Happy Feast!

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