Updated: Jul 20, 2020
Mary Magdalene’s story is told in all four gospels of the New Testament. She became a faithful follower of Jesus after he delivered her from seven evil spirits. She saw Jesus as he died on the cross and helped to prepare his body to be buried.
Jesus gave Mary Magdalene the blessing to be the first person to see and talk with him after his resurrection from the dead.
The resurrected Jesus told Mary Magdalene to go to the followers of the Son of God: “Go to those who believe in me. Tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ ”
We remember Mary Magdalene on July 22 as a saint or holy role model for us. She showed her gratitude to Jesus for her healing by serving him with all her heart and soul. Some call her the apostle of apostles. Jesus taught the apostles who God was by what they saw Him do on earth in the flesh. He sent them out to share God’s transforming love with others by the way they lived their everyday lives.
CHALLENGE: Ask our Almighty God: How can I show you my gratitude for all your blessings in my life? Who can I share your love and kindness with today?
Let us pray:
Almighty God, whose blessed Son restored Mary Magdalene
to health of body and of mind, and called her to be a witness of his
resurrection: Mercifully grant that by your grace we may be healed
from all our infirmities and know you in the power of his unending
life; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
READINGS: Judith 9:1; 11-14), Psalm 42:1-7, 2Corinthians 5:14-20a, John 20:11-18
FIRST READING: Judith 9:1; 11-14: The Prayer of Judith
9 Then Judith prostrated herself, put ashes on her head, and uncovered the sackcloth she was wearing. At the very time when the evening incense was being offered in the house of God in Jerusalem, Judith cried out to the Lord with a loud voice, and said,
11 “For your strength does not depend on numbers, nor your might on the powerful. But you are the God of the lowly, helper of the oppressed, upholder of the weak, protector of the forsaken, savior of those without hope. 12 Please, please, God of my father, God of the heritage of Israel, Lord of heaven and earth, Creator of the waters, King of all your creation, hear my prayer! 13 Make my deceitful words bring wound and bruise on those who have planned cruel things against your covenant, and against your sacred house, and against Mount Zion, and against the house your children possess. 14 Let your whole nation and every tribe know and understand that you are God, the God of all power and might, and that there is no other who protects the people of Israel but you alone!”
1 As the deer desires the water brooks, *
so longs my soul for you, O God.
2 My soul is athirst for God, even for the living God; *
when shall I come to appear before the presence of God?
3 My tears have been my food day and night, *
while all day long they say to me, “Where now is your God?”
4 When I think upon these things, I pour out my heart, *
when I remember how I went with the multitude, and brought them into the house of
5 With the voice of praise and thanksgiving *
among those who keep holy day.
6 Why are you so full of heaviness, O my soul, *
and why are you so disquieted within me?
7 O put your trust in God, *
for I will yet give him thanks, who is the help of my countenance, and my God.
SECOND READING: 2 Corinthians 5:14-20
14 Christ’s love controls us. We are sure that one person died for everyone. And so everyone died. 15 Christ died for everyone. He died so that those who live should not live for themselves anymore. They should live for Christ. He died for them and was raised again.
16 So from now on we don’t look at anyone the way the world does. At one time we looked at Christ in that way. But we don’t anymore. 17 When anyone lives in Christ, the new creation has come. The old is gone! The new is here! 18 All this is from God. He brought us back to himself through Christ’s death on the cross. And he has given us the task of bringing others back to him through Christ. 19 God was bringing the world back to himself through Christ. He did not hold people’s sins against them. God has trusted us with the message that people may be brought back to him. 20 So we are Christ’s official messengers. It is as if God were making his appeal through us. Here is what Christ wants us to beg you to do. Come back to God!
GOSPEL: JOHN 20:11-18: Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene
11 But Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she cried, she bent over to look into the tomb. 12 She saw two angels dressed in white. They were seated where Jesus’ body had been. One of them was where Jesus’ head had been laid. The other sat where his feet had been placed. 13 They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”
“They have taken my Lord away,” she said. “I don’t know where they have put him.” 14 Then she turned around and saw Jesus standing there. But she didn’t realize that it was Jesus.
15 He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who are you looking for?”
She thought he was the gardener. So she said, “Sir, did you carry him away? Tell me where you put him. Then I will go and get him.”
16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.”
She turned toward him. Then she cried out in the Aramaic language, “Rabboni!” Rabboni means Teacher.17 Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me. I have not yet ascended to the Father. Instead, go to those who believe in me. Tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ ”
18 Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news. She said, “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.
NOTES to GO DEEPER:
The Book of Judith was a story written by an anonymous author, 100+ years before the birth of Christ. It is included in the Apocrypha or addendum to the Old and New Testaments. These books provide role models and examples that reinforce the doctrine in the Holy Bible. Judith is a Jewish widow who calls upon God to giver her strength to take action to save her homeland. She is a role model for widows who were often marginalized in medieval society without the protection and financial support of their husbands.
JUDITH 9:1 That Judith uncovered the sackcloth in which she was clothed after the elders had left demonstrates her true humility: she did not present herself with a sad countenance.
9:12 Heaven,earth, and waters comprise the visible world and thereby express the full scope of the rule of the Creator and King.
9:13 Judith wisely understands that the intent of the enemy is the removal of faith in God.
9:14 This is the purpose for Judith's story
PSALM 42: 1-7: LEADERS CAN’T LEAD FURTHER THAN THEIR OWN LIFE
We see a leader who is dry and thirsty. This leader is experiencing a wilderness period, as every leader does at some point. Nothing seems to be exciting or motivating. In verses 2–4, the writer seems to be saying, “I used to lead the people in a parade to God, and now I can’t even find Him myself!” Fortunately, this leader recaptures his perspective in verse 5. He begins to tell himself the truth. In the final verse, he concludes that God will prevail.
This leader realizes that he cannot lead people any further than where he himself stands. He refuses to fake it. He doesn’t want to pretend all is well. So before he attempts to lead anyone again, he cries out to God for renewal. He wants to model telling himself the truth about the future for others.
2CORINTHIANS 5:14-20a Paul seeks to persuade men by the love of Christ (v. 14), the divine invitation to live for Christ (v. 15), to eternal life. The heart of Paul's gospel is baptism, where life and death meet: Christ died and rose for us that we might die and rise in Him.
5:16-17 Paul did not know “the historical Jesus” as He voluntarily took on our mortality, lived on earth, and was known according to the flesh (v. 16). Nobody knows Jesus that way after His Ascension, for his mortal flesh has been transformed into an immortal body. Even so, our old bodies are transformed into a new creation (v. 17) in Christ. Because God created all things through Christ, He will transform and reunite all things—material as well as spiritual—to Himself through Christ.
5:18-21 How was Christ made to be sin for us? He, the incarnate Son of God, voluntarily assumed the consequences of our sin—corruption and death—without sinning Himself. And He submitted to unjust suffering because of the sinful passions of men and of angels. This means salvation is far more than forgiveness of sins. It is new life: our reconciliation to God (vv. 18–20) and our becoming new creatures (v. 17), participants in the very righteousness of God (v. 21). This means our salvation is not just the static, legal pronouncement of a judge, but personal and relational (the dynamic, sacrificial love of a father for his child).
JOHN 20:11-18 The encounter between the risen Lord and Mary is reminiscent of the encounter between the bride and her beloved in the Song of Solomon (SS 3:1–4). This parallel teaches that through the Resurrection, Christ has taken the Church to be His eternal Bride.
20:13: Contrary to certain modern usages, Woman is a sacred title in Scripture, an address conveying deep respect and distinction.
20:14: The nature of the resurrected body is so different from its previous state that it is not immediately recognizable (Jn 20:14; 21:4, 12; see 1Co 15:35–44). It is also able to take different forms, which is what occurs here
20:16 That Mary turned again (see v. 14) shows she had been looking back and forth between the angels (v. 12) and her Lord, sensing the awe of the angels in the presence of their Ruler, but not yet recognizing Jesus herself. Through Christ calling Mary by name, her eyes and heart are opened, and she recognizes Him. Rabboni is an affectionate term meaning “my dear Teacher.”
20:17 Do not cling to Me: Christ does not prohibit the touching of His resurrected flesh, for we commune with His flesh in the Eucharist, and He even commands Thomas to touch Him (v. 27). Here, Christ is instructing Mary to understand and accept that His life is not merely continuing in the same state as before, and that He will not remain with her as He did in the past, but is pressing forward to His Ascension to the Father.
20:18 Mary Magdalene, having remained faithful to Christ to the end, is the first person sent to proclaim the risen Lord, and is the first apostle of the Resurrection. She is known in the Church as “the apostle to the apostles.”