Friday, July 22, 2011

The Solemnity of St. Mary Magdalene (at least where I live)

Because I am a deacon at the only cathedral in this country of which she is the patroness, I look to St. Mary Magdalene very often. Today the Church throughout the world remembers her, which we have done on 22 July since time immemorial. At The Cathedral of the Madeleine we do not merely celebrate a liturgical memorial, but a solemnity! It is a fun and exciting day. Mary of Magdala found wisdom and, in turn, shows us what it means to be wise, which, paradoxically, often looks quite foolish. Because we are in Year A of the three year lectionary cycle, I want to point out that in St. Matthew’s Gospel, Mary Magdalene is mentioned three times in the account of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. I also look forward to our Sunday readings, which are about true wisdom.

Assumption of St.Mary Magdalene, by Jusepe Ribera, 1636


First, she is one of the women "looking on at a distance," one of the women "who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to him," as our Lord died on the cross (Matt. 27:55-56). Next she is written about with regard to Jesus’ burial by Joseph of Arimathea, where we read that after the body was buried and a great stone had been put in place to prevent entry, "Mary Magdalene and the other Mary remained sitting there, facing the tomb" (Matt. 27:61). Finally, we read that at dawn on the first day of the week, the two women who sat facing the tomb two days earlier, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, "came to see the tomb" (Matt. 28:1). As they arrived "there was a great earthquake” and “an angel of the Lord descended from heaven… rolled back the stone, and sat upon it" (Matt. 28:2).The angel said to them, "Do not be afraid! I know that you are seeking Jesus the crucified. He is not here, for he has been raised just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, 'He has been raised from the dead…'" (Matt. 28:5-7). In response, "they went away quickly from the tomb, fearful yet overjoyed, and ran to announce this to his disciples" that He had been raised (Matt. 28:8).

Sancta Maria Magdalena- ora pro nobis

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