Homily for the Feast of St. Mary Magdalene

July 22, 2015

Appearance of Jesus Christ to Mary of Magdala  by Alexander Andreyevich Ivanov, 1860

After Christ is crucified and laid in the tomb, Mary Magdalene goes in search of Him. She finds Our Lord’s body is not in the tomb, and so she does what any good Catholic would do in this situation – she goes to the Church and asks. Peter and John – the leader of the Church and the apostle with the deepest theological insight – are not able to help her, and she returns to the empty tomb.

At the tomb as she is weeping for her lost Lord, she encounters two angels – emissaries of heaven itself. Even these cannot console her; her one concern is that they have taken her Lord and she cannot find Him.

Then Jesus Himself comes to her, but at first she does not recognize Him. She thinks He is a man charged with maintaining the grounds; she offers to take away Christ’s body, even though she has no real plan for what she will do after that. Not that it matters; the only thing that matters to her is Our Lord’s body, and that it be given the respect it deserves.

Finally, at Christ’s call, she recognizes Him. She is called; she rejoices; she is given a mission and sent. This is the Christian life in its entirety. This is what happens to each and every one of us. We long for the Lord, but we do not know where to find Him. Until we do find Him, nothing on earth or in heaven can console us or take His place. Once we do find Him, we have cause to rejoice.

But rejoicing is not enough; there is a step beyond that, and in that step we take up the mission our God gives us and we go forth, carrying His message and helping others to find Him. Let us pray always for the grace to find Jesus and to let Him be active in our lives, so that we may go forth proclaiming, like the Magdalene, that we have found the Lord and are sharing His gospel message.

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