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Saturday, 7/22/2017, Memorial of St. Mary Magdalene

She Believed But Still Needed Proof

Commentary for John 20:1-2, 11-18

John tells us that when Mary Magdalene went to the tomb, she stayed there for a while and wept. Two angels asked her why she was weeping and she responded, “They have taken my Lord, and I don’t know where they laid him.” Then Jesus appeared to her but she did not recognize Him at first. Jesus asked her, “Whom are you looking for?” When Jesus called her by name, she recognized Him. Jesus told her to stop holding on to Him because He had not yet ascended to the Father and He told her to go and tell the others that He was going to His Father who was His God and her God.

What did Jesus mean when He told Mary Magdalene to stop holding on to Him because He had not yet ascended to the Father? Jesus was proclaiming His divinity and He was telling Mary Magdalene to stop thinking of Him as a man because His humanity had been sacrificed.

It is easy to be left with the impression that Mary Magdalene did not believe that Christ had risen when first reading this gospel. But she was a believer in Jesus and not knowing that He had already risen, Mary was left with the question. Being a believer and knowing what Jesus had said about rising on the third day, Mary should not have had any questions. She should have immediately known what had happened. But it was not until Jesus spoke to her that she became enlightened.

Once again we see how it is human nature to need tangible evidence before we put our faith into something. This is true even with the best of us. God knows this and that is one reason why Jesus made His appearance to Mary Magdalene and continued to make appearances after His Resurrection until Ascension Thursday. The appearances that Jesus made on earth after His Resurrection provide tangible evidence that He did indeed raise up from the dead.

We hear this message over and over again: we have to make God number one in our lives and not the things which are of this world. Today, we learn once again, with Mary Magdalene’s experience at the tomb, that we must learn to separate our worldly way of thinking from the way we think about God.

We are in great company as there are many great saints in heaven who struggled with this issue. Their example is testimony to the fact that we need to pray and stay close to the Church. That is where we get the strength we need to use our faith and believe without the tangible proof that our humanity wants.

The message in today’s first reading, Song of Songs 3:1-4b, is about someone searching for the love of their life. Mary was searching for Jesus and we know that Mary Magdalene loved Jesus with all of her heart. The fact is that her faith in Jesus was just as strong. The same is true for all of the saints in heaven.

My point is that like Mary Magdalene and the saints, our love and faith can be without doubt but if we think of God on human terms, because of our human nature, our faith will develop a flaw. As Jesus said, “Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” John 20:29

Reading 1          Song of Songs 3:1-4b

The Bride says: On my bed at night I sought him whom my heart loves–I sought him but I did not find him.
I will rise then and go about the city; in the streets and crossings I will seek Him whom my heart loves.
I sought him but I did not find him.
The watchmen came upon me, as they made their rounds of the city: Have you seen him whom my heart loves?
I had hardly left them when I found him whom my heart loves.

Responsorial Psalm          Psalm 63:2-6, 8-9

R. (2) My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.

O God, you are my God whom I seek; for you my flesh pines and my soul thirsts like the earth, parched, lifeless and without water.
R. My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.

Thus have I gazed toward you in the sanctuary to see your power and your glory, For your kindness is a greater good than life; my lips shall glorify you.
R. My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.

Thus will I bless you while I live; lifting up my hands, I will call upon your name.
As with the riches of a banquet shall my soul be satisfied, and with exultant lips my mouth shall praise you.
R. My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.

You are my help, and in the shadow of your wings I shout for joy.
My soul clings fast to you; your right hand upholds me.
R. My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.

Gospel          John 20: 1-2, 11-18

On the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb.
So she ran and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put him.”

Mary stayed outside the tomb weeping.
And as she wept, she bent over into the tomb and saw two angels in white sitting there, one at the head and one at the feet where the Body of Jesus had been.
And they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?”
She said to them, “They have taken my Lord, and I don’t know where they laid him.”
When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus there, but did not know it was Jesus.
Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?
Whom are you looking for?”
She thought it was the gardener and said to him, “Sir, if you carried him away, tell me where you laid him, and I will take him.”
Jesus said to her, “Mary!”
She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni,” which means Teacher.
Jesus said to her, “Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father.
But go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”
Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord,” and then reported what he told her.

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The Descent of the Holy Spirit
Catechism of the Catholic Church
Paragraph 767 "When the work which the Father gave the Son to do on earth was accomplished, the Holy Spirit was sent on the day of Pentecost in order that he might continually sanctify the Church."174 Then "the Church was openly displayed to the crowds and the spread of the Gospel among the nations, through preaching, was begun."175 As the "convocation" of all men for salvation, the Church in her very nature is missionary, sent by Christ to all the nations to make disciples of them.176

The Holy Spirit came to Mary and the Apostles as tongues of fire.

Mary Magdalene did not realize that Jesus was the Risen Christ until He called her by name.


R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Tell us Mary, what did you see on the way?
I saw the glory of the risen Christ, I saw his empty tomb.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Saint of the Day
St. Mary Magdalene
Patron Saint of:
Penitents & Perfumers

About Today's Saint
Mary of Magdala, from whom Jesus cast seven demons, Mark 16:9, was among the women who assisted Christ and the apostles as they traveled and preached the Good News. This Mary stood at the foot of the cross with the Lord's Mother and John when the other Apostles fled. She helped bury the Lord's body, went to complete the burial on Easter morning and became the first to see the risen Master. The Byzantine Liturgy says Jesus made Mary Magdalene "the apostle to the Apostles."

Consider this: Jesus is all about love because He is God the Son and God is: love. Perhaps Mary Magdalene's best virtue was her love for Jesus.

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