Today we celebrate the Feast of Saint Mary Magdalene, to whom Saint Thomas Aquinas, among other doctors of the Church, called the “apostle of the apostles.” Saint Mary Magdalene was given this title because in the Gospel of Luke we read that she was the first to encounter the Risen Lord in the Garden where His tomb was located and announced His rising to the other apostles. This is one of several reasons why Pope Francis, in 2017, raised the importance of today as an obligatory feast for the entire Church.
Unfortunately, St. Mary Magdalene has been misunderstood throughout the ages. While it is clear from the Gospels that she was freed from seven demons that tormented her by the hand of Jesus, many commentators in history incorrectly identified as a repentant prostitute. In more recent times, she has been the source of unbelieving speculation that is both false and spread to disparage our faith. Yet, in all this, her love for the Lord can inspire us to greater discipleship, even when we may face opposition or be maligned by others.
There is, however, one quality above all others that St. Mary Magdalene demonstrated in her life from which we draw great hope. It was an unyielding spirit of perseverance in pursuit of the Lord. For it is obvious that she was the one to whom the Lord first appeared in large part because she alone remained in the garden. She refused to leave, persevering in her faith that the Lord would not abandon them forever. Her perseverance allowed her to see with her own eyes what her heart believed without question.
St. Mary Magdalene’s tenacious perseverance, when everyone else “left” the garden, encourages me in a time when many are also “leaving” the garden of faith. Let us follow Mary’s example and persevere in faith. For the Lord is nearer to us now than we could ever imagine, and someone needs to be the one to welcome everyone back to hear His Good News.
The previous reflection originally appeared on Bishop Frank Caggiano’s Facebook page. Follow the Bishop for daily reflections and weekly videos.