22nd July. St. Mary Magdalen

It was Gregory the Great who put togther the story of Mary Magdalen and the sinner who anointed the feet of Jesus at Simon’s house. During the Middle Ages Mary Magdalen became one of the foremost saints and many a religious house was dedicated to her. Sermons were often preached about her because she was now seen as a perfect example of true penitence. From being a woman living on the edge of society, depending on prostitution to survive, she became this humble servant, begging Jesus to forgive her and washing his feet with her tears. The idea of her living an ascetic life as part of her new penitential life then grew up. St. Catherine of Siena praised her example. (That these images were often, but not only, presented by men might be questioned today.) For in the gospel Mary never was this great sinner. She was released from some epilepsy or ‘devils’ as the gospel says, but that was it, after all that is enough. She then became a real disciple and follower of Jesus. It is her role as the first witness to the resurrection that is most important, as is the fact that it was a woman that was chosen. Her encounter with the risen Jesus which John paints to beautifully in the gospel is an example to us all of what it is the seek for Jesus and then be called by him by name. That is what we all are. Called by him, and seeking our vocation, the way of life he has created us for, and in discovering this we find ourselves in true harmony with our world.

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