Thursday, 22 July 2010

St Mary Magdalen: a woman in the Church

The Gospel at Mass for the feast of St Mary Magdalen (John 20:1-2, 11-18) reminds us that she was the first to discover the Resurrection of the Lord, though the Gospel text suggests that it took some time for her to recognise the significance of her discovery.

She then ran to tell Simon Peter and the beloved disciple.

So, in that mysterious moment at the beginning of the Church's life, Mary Magdalen is right up there with the key figures of Simon Peter and John. That moment has its feminine dimension, as well as the Petrine and Johannine dimension (the deference of John/charism to Peter/office as they enter the tomb).

Mary Magdalen is then sent by the Lord to announce the resurrection, and says to the disciples: "I have seen the Lord".

Within the dynamic of the Church's evangelising mission, this is the first example of "primary proclamation", and so Mary Magdalen could perhaps be taken as a patron saint of those who engage in this aspect of the Church's mission.

The Meditation of the Day in Magnificat is an extract from a homily by St Gregory the Great. It suggests another dimension to the charism of Mary Magdalen. St Gregory's account of the soul of Mary Magdalen reminds one of the gifts that would be associated with the great mystics Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross, a love that makes a soul burn for the Lord.
Scorching fire burns away the rust of sin in the heart. The soul is inflamed as if it were gold, because gold loses its beauty through use but fire restores it to brightness. So Mary loved, who turned a second time to the supulchre she had already looked into ... Her search had been redoubled by the power of love.

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