Posted by: fvbcdm | July 23, 2013

Feast of Saint Mary Magdalen (22 July 2013)

 We have in our English language the word “maudlin” which means excessively sentimental or sorrowful; having to do with weeping. The word has an interesting origin. It comes from an ancient village called Magdala on the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee. From that town in the time of Jesus was a woman named Mary—Mary of Magdala, or Mary Magdalen, as we call her.  Earlier in her career, Our Lord had driven seven devils from her, so her condition had been the tragic one of diabolical obsession or possession from with Jesus had freed her. She showed her immense gratitude by a subsequent life devoted to Our Lord and his apostles, traveling with them and several other women who ministered to their needs and became their disciples. Our Lord’s life ended on the cross.  A few of his staunchest friends risked their lives by accompanying him to his crucifixion and standing there watching the heartbreaking spectacle of him dying. To die by crucifixion is not a pretty thing. The victim of this torture endures physical suffering that we can’t even imagine, and death comes very slowly by suffocation as the chest cavity goes into spasms and can no longer breathe. The gasping, choking, struggling for air must be terrible. No doubt the women at the foot of the cross, including Our Blessed Lady and Saint Mary Magdalen, must have wept many tears at this tragic sight of their beloved son, friend, lord, savior, and God dying in such agony over a period of some three hours.  Since Saint Mary Magdalen is portrayed in countless pieces of art as weeping at the cross, the word “Magdalen” which the medieval English people mispronounced “maudlin,” has come to mean excessive weeping and lamenting.

But Magdalen’s weeping did not end with Jesus’s death. Since she was not allowed by the Sabbath rules to bring aromatic plants and fragrances to the tomb on Saturday, she set out even before the break of day on Sunday to honor the corpse of her beloved teacher. Now, new grief assaults her: the tomb has been opened, and his body is not there!  She is horrified at the thought of that beloved body falling into unworthy hands.  Again, tears.  But as she looks into the tomb, she sees two figures, one of whom asks her, “Why are you weeping?” “They have taken my Lord,” she says in her grief, “and I don’t know where they laid him.”

Then there comes another voice: “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” In her acute distress, she doesn’t recognize that most beautiful of all voices. Thinking him to be the custodian of the cemetery, she says, “Sir, if you carried him away, tell me where you laid him. . .” Now that voice speaks again. This time, though, the man doesn’t address her as “Woman,” but “Mary.” Her grief is instantly turned to a joy that she has never known.  It is HE! Her teacher, her “rabbouni!” She saw him die in misery just forty hours ago; now he is alive, resplendent, victorious.  And she is happier than she has ever been in her life. No more tears. Rather now, the exultant statement: “I have seen the Lord!” She tells what she has seen; she is the first preacher of the Resurrection, the best of all good news—the gospel par excellence. Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.

Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God Bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.

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