The Gospel of the feast of St Martha brings to light once again the greatness of St Mary Magdalene, the sister of the saintly woman whom the Church celebrates today, even if she did earn herself a rebuke from Our Lord for imagining that she could tell Him what to do.
“Mary has chosen the better part, and it shall not be taken away from her.” (Lk 10:38 – 42)
In the Church, St Mary Magdalene has become the symbol of the contemplative life, just as St Martha that of the active life. But both women were holy and both were saints; both loved wisely and well, in that they loved Our Lord above all things.
Yet St Mary Magdalene is venerated as a greater saint in the Dominican Order and given the title of Patroness. Humbert of Romans, the fifth Master-General of the Order, comments on Mary Magdalene’s role as the apostle of the Apostles – for it was she who brought news of Our Lord’s resurrection to the Apostles. As an apostolic Order then, the Dominicans honour her specially, because she who wept at the foot of the Cross merited to be one of the first to whom He would appear after His resurrection from the dead.
For the girls we teach, however, St Mary Magdalene is an example too, especially as the world we live in today is, as Father mentioned in his sermon, a factory designed especially to produce on a great scale women according to the model of Mary of Magdala before her conversion.
It is a sad and unfortunate reality that our fallen nature aids the corrupt agents in the world in forming unwise loves in our hearts. Without the aid of grace and a firm will to fight against concupiscence, one ends up abandoning self to strange loves. They make sad spectacles of themselves. And though most girls try to be careful not to be thought of in the same way as Mary of Magdala before her conversion – “a woman in the town who was a sinner” – their efforts are to no avail. For in the precise degree that they are more or less like Mary of Magdala, they will be thought of with sneering contempt. This sort of thing is immediately apparent, especially transparent, to men in particular.
Perhaps she had gone to see Jesus out of curiosity. He was the talk of the town, after all. And when she had come to hear Him preach, a wonderful transformation took place.
“The shame and horror of her past life came over her like a tidal wave: the earthquake of the divine love of Jesus shook her soul to its bottommost depths and the tsunami of repentance that resulted changed this ‘woman in the town who was a sinner’ into a public penitent. Just as she had no shame before to flaunt her sin before the whole town now she had no shame to flaunt equally her penance.”Excerpt from Fr Albert’s Sermon for the Feast
Many sins are forgiven her, because she hath loved much. (Lk 7:47)
The forgiveness of Christ has taught her to love wisely – she became Saint Mary Magdalene, surely one of the greatest saints in Heaven, for she was at the foot of the Cross with the Mother of Jesus herself and the mother of Saint James and Saint John, and Scripture records her as the first to see Jesus after His resurrection.
Let us ask Saint Mary Magdalene then to teach us how to love wisely, the wisdom of all wisdoms, the wisdom of the heart. For to love Jesus above all things is what our hearts are made for, and nothing else can every satisfy them. All other loves, even legitimate ones, are empty if they are not ruled by His love. This is the only true wisdom that we really need to know.