Posted by: fvbcdm | July 22, 2015

Feast of Saint Mary Magdalen (22 July 2015)

The 22nd of July each year brings us to the feast of Saint Mary Magdalen, the official “protectress” of our Dominican Order. Hers is a remarkable story. Her name probably means that she was a native of the town of Magdala in Galilee, on the western shore of the Lake or Sea of Galilee. We know from the gospels that Our Lord delivered her from seven devils, although we are not told how she came to be possessed by them or whether it was her own sinfulness that caused her diabolical possession. But we do know that, once Our Lord had liberated her from this awful situation, she became an ardent disciple of Our Lord.  Her love for him gave her the courage to stand with His holy Mother and Saint John the Apostle at the foot of the cross, which was a dangerous place to be since it indicated that they were followers of His and might be treated by the Roman authorities the way Jesus himself was being treated.

Magdalen took part in the burial of Our Lord in the tomb of another disciple, Joseph of Arimathea, but because of the imminence of the Sabbath day, they could not complete the rites of burial that they desired. Therefore, early on the morning after the Sabbath—we call it Easter Sunday—she and some other women returned to the tomb with fragrant spices and aromatics to place on and around Jesus’s body. But as they approached the tomb, they were faced with a problem: who was going to open the very heavy stone entrance to the tomb. It would take several men to roll back the wheel-shaped stone which protected the bodies of the dead from grave robbers and animals.

We know the rest of the story: the tomb was open; the body of Jesus was not there, but two angels were there to tell Mary Magdalen and the other women that Jesus was risen from the grave, alive, and victorious over death. And the women were commanded to go and tell his apostles that he was risen. What a joy—to be able to announce to the grieving friends of Jesus that their grief was ended, that Jesus was alive, that the pain of Good Friday and the sadness of that Holy Saturday was now ended and replaced by the triumph of Easter—a triumph that would never end!

Saint Mary Magdalen was the first to spread the gospel—the “good news” that Jesus was risen. And subsequent to that moment, every Christian preacher has that same joy: to announce to the world that the crucified and murdered Jesus was risen, alive, and finished with all his sufferings for the salvation of mankind. That is why we Dominican Preachers have chosen her as our protectress. We want to imitate her in constantly giving to our fellow human beings the greatest of all “good news”: Jesus Christ is risen from the dead and will live forever in victory! Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.

Note:  This message was composed some years ago.


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