I suppose it is fitting that I write a post on this day – July 22. Mary of Magdala is my patron saint and today is her feast day. She is the saint name I took for my confirmation. When I was in fourth grade as to what name I was to take for my confirmation name – I said Mary. My confirmation instructor praised me for choosing Mary – the mother of Christ but I quickly retorted and said, “Oh no, I want to be the bad Mary.” I am not sure if this speaks to the bad preparation I received in my catechesis and confirmation prep or if it speaks of the bad idea of having 4th graders confirmed.
Through the years and through my reconversion to the faith, I have come to love Mary Magdalene and embrace her as my patron saint. She is often associated with the woman caught in adultery, (John 8:1-11) but there is no biblical reference that the woman was Mary Magdalene. She is mentioned as the women whom Jesus has cast out seven demons (Luke 8:2, Mark 16:9) and of course she was one of the women who stayed at the cross of Jesus even when others fled. Maybe the most important role she played as the apostle to the apostles is to be the first to witness Jesus after the resurrection!
Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? Who are you looking for?’ Supposing him to be the gardener, she said, ‘Sir, if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and remove him.’
Jesus said, ‘Mary!’ She turned round then and said to him in Hebrew, ‘Rabbuni!’ — which means Master. (John 20:15-16)
I love this narrative – I often joked that Mary Magdalene must have been a blonde! I mean really, how can someone be looking right at Jesus and think he is the gardener? But, if I am honest, how many times have I been looking at Jesus and not seen Him? And how many times have I been looking at a gardener and think he was Jesus.
Following Jesus in the steps of Mary Magdalene is very fitting for me. I am a sinner. I have my seven demons and I believe Jesus is casting them out one by one. And even if the biblical figure of the woman caught in adultery isn’t Mary Magdalene, I know Jesus forgives me like the woman caught in adultery. I also know that Jesus defends me even when I have no other advocate (John 8:7).
So today I celebrate my Saint Day and be reminded that my sins are forgiven, that Jesus defends me and that he loves me through the most difficult times.
A Prayer to St. Mary Magdalene
St. Mary Magdalene, woman of many sins, who by conversion became the beloved of Jesus, thank you for your witness that Jesus forgives through the miracle of love.
You, who already possess eternal happiness in His glorious presence, please intercede for me, so that some day I may share in the same everlasting joy. Amen.