Wednesday, July 22, 2009


” St Mary Magdalene”
by Carlo Dolci, 1644-46


Biographical Information about St. Mary Magdalene

Readings for the Memorial of St. Mary Magdalene [1]

Readings and Commentary:


First Option
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.
Commentary on
Sng 3:1-4b

This passage from the Song of Songs described the desperate search of God’s faithful for the one whom they love – God. Not finding him close by a search is made and bystanders are consulted of his whereabouts.

CCC: Sng 3:1-4 2709
Second Option
2 Corinthians 5:14-17

Brothers and sisters:
The love of Christ impels us,
once we have come to the conviction that one died for all;
therefore, all have died.
He indeed died for all,
so that those who live might no longer live for themselves
but for him who for their sake died and was raised.

Consequently, from now on we regard no one according to the flesh;
even if we once knew Christ according to the flesh,
yet now we know him so no longer.
So whoever is in Christ is a new creation:
the old things have passed away;
behold, new things have come.
Commentary on
2 Cor 5:14-17

In this passage the Apostle describes the transformation that occurs when a person accepts Christ and His mission. That Christian no longer considers Christ in terms of what was accomplished as man but rather the spiritual dimension of the human person. This life in the spirit is forged new in baptism. The “old things”, the old covenant, passes away and new life and a new creation are brought forth in the new creation of the baptized.

CCC: 2 Cor 5:14 616, 851; 2 Cor 5:15 605, 655, 1269; 2 Cor 5:17 1214, 1265; 2 Cor 5:17-18 1999
Psalm 63: 2, 3-4, 5-6, 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.
Commentary on
Ps 63:2, 3-4, 5-6, 8-9

Psalm 63 is an individual lament. In this selection we see the emotion of one who longs to be reunited with God, from whom separation is like being cast into a desert without water. The singer professes faith in God’s salvation, and expresses faith that the prayers offered will be answered.

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.
Commentary on Jn 20:1-2, 11-18

This passage is St. John’s account of the first meeting between Mary Magdalene and Jesus following the Lord’s crucifixion. In this account we get a distinct picture that the ascension had not been completed but the Lord is waiting to deliver his final instructions.There is debate about when the Lord ascended to the Father. Clearly his last earthly appearance was fifty days following the resurrection. Most scholars believe Jesus ascended immediately following his meeting with Mary depicted here. His return and actions from this point to the Ascension (
Acts 1:1-11) were to accomplish the gift of the Holy Spirit he had promised.

CCC: Jn 20:1 2174; Jn 20:2 640; Jn 20:11-18 641; Jn 20:13 640; Jn 20:14-15 645, 659; Jn 20:14 645; Jn 20:16 645; Jn 20:17 443, 645, 654, 660, 2795

Much has been said about St. Mary Magdalene in scripture, in art, and in secular media. What we know of her and what our tradition tells us is grounded in sacred scripture. For instance, we are told directly that St. Mary Magdalene was one of the first to encounter the Risen Christ following his great passion and death. While she does not at first recognize the Savior, when he calls her name, she immediately realizes what has taken place and has faith. So intense is her love for him that she is told “Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father.”

In this very human reaction on St. Mary’s part we find great empathy with her. So intense is her love for the Jesus who walked with her as man, to whom she had listened countless times, she did not want him to continue with what he must do. This one statement provides an example of love of Christ that describes his essences as both true God and true man.

St. Mary’s example of love for Christ and faith in him has won for her a unique place in our own history of faith. She has provided an example of fidelity as she stood beside him when tensions with the people he loved were high. She demonstrated an image of perfect contrition for it is thought by some that she was the adulterous woman Jesus saved from stoning.

When we think of St. Mary Magdalene we often call to mind one who is devoted to the Lord in a very individual way. Where other saints show us the face turning out to the world, Saint Mary Magdalene’s is the face turned inward toward Christ in her love and devotion to him.

For our parts we hope for some measure of that very personal and intimate love of Christ. We are reminded in this example that a relationship both personal and intimate with the Lord is possible and that his mercy and love flows to us through this connection.


[1] The picture is ” St Mary Magdalene” by Carlo Dolci, 1644-46
[2] Text of Readings is taken from the New American Bible, Copyright © Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Excerpts from the English translation of The Roman Missal © 1973, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved.

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