Perhaps one of the most misunderstood Saints in the Church is the woman we celebrate today, St. Mary Magdalene. We start with who she was not. She was not Mary of Bethany, sister of Martha and Lazarus. It is unlikely that she was the woman mentioned by Jesus who at the dinner party thrown by Simon, cleans kisses and anoints the feet of Jesus. But we do know that Mary Magdalene is that from her according to the Gospels seven demons were driven out. We also know that all four Gospels indicate that she was a witness to the resurrection, and proclaimed that good news to the apostles. It is for this reason the same in Boston bestowed upon her the title of the “apostle to the apostles” since she was first to proclaim the resurrection of Jesus.
It is also clear that we understand that Mary Magdalene is the patroness of the order of preachers. This is for a similar reason mentioned earlier, namely that Mary was one, in fact the first one, claim the good news of Jesus, namely that he is risen from the dead. Just as Mary proclaims the good news of the risen Christ, such as the task for Dominicans today. As the order of preachers, a rather bold title, we are called to proclaim the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. It is the Paschal mystery of Jesus that we preach, and it is that invitation to a deeper relationship with Jesus that is the core of our preaching.
At the same time, it is also important for each one of us to recognize that like Mary Magdalene we too are called to proclaim the risen Christ. Each one of us, has an obligation to proclaim that God’s presence in our midst is a source of good news. That does not take much for us to recognize that we live in a world desperate for good news. We know of the current violence that is occurring in Gaza, in Syria and in Iraq. We could not have helped but escaped the images of the Malaysian Airlines flight 17, shot down in Ukraine. There are the wildfires consuming significant parts of the state of Washington. There is the crisis of unaccompanied minors coming across the border, and how best to deal with them in the short term, and looking for a solution that is long-term.
These events do not even consider what may be occurring in our personal lives. For many of us, it is not necessary to look to the television the radio or the newspapers, to find sad and difficult circumstances. For too many of us, these very difficult circumstances are quite present in our day-to-day lives. For that reason, today’s memorial of St. Mary Magdalene provides us with an opportunity to do as she did: proclaim the good news that Jesus is indeed risen.