POPE FRANCIS: ST. MARY MAGDALENE, THE APOSTLE OF HOPE.
- The most genuine bonds are not broken not even by death: one continues to love even if the beloved person has gone forever.
- Mary Magdalene suffers because of the inexplicable disappearance of Jesus’ body.
- Every one of us is a story of God’s love.
- Even with the disappointments in our life, there is a God close to us and tells us: “Rise, stop crying, because I have come to free you!”
- Our God dreams of the transformation of the world, carried out through His Resurrection. Our strength and hope: I have changed because I have seen the Lord.
Dear brethren in Christ, below you have the ZENIT translation of Pope Francis’ catechesis on St. Mary Magdalen, the apostle of hope given on May 17, 2017. Happy reading and meditation.
+++CATHECESIS BEGINS HERE. TITLES AND FORMATTING MINE.+++
Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!
1. The most genuine bonds are not broken not even by death: one continues to love even if the beloved person has gone forever.
In these weeks our reflection is moving, so to speak, in the orbit of the paschal mystery. Today we meet her who, according to the Gospels, was the first to see Jesus Risen: Mary Magdalene. The Sabbath rest had just ended. On the day of the Passion there was no time to complete the funeral rites; therefore, on that dawn full of sadness, the women went to Jesus’ tomb with perfumed unguents. The first to arrive was she, Mary of Magdala, one of the disciples that had accompanied Jesus from Galilee, putting themselves at the service of the nascent Church. Reflected in her path to the sepulcher is the fidelity of so many women who are devoted for years to the paths of cemeteries, in memory of someone who is no longer. The most genuine bonds are not broken not even by death: one continues to love even if the beloved person has gone forever.
The Gospel (Cf. John 20:1-2.11-18) describes Magdalene, making it evident immediately that she was not a woman of easy enthusiasms. In fact, after the first visit to the sepulcher, she returned disappointed to the place where the disciples were hiding; she said that the stone was moved from the entrance to the sepulcher, and her first theory is the simplest that can be formulated: someone must have stolen Jesus’ body. Thus, the first announcement that Mary brings is not that of the Resurrection, but of a robbery that unknowns perpetrated, while the whole of Jerusalem was asleep.
Then the Gospels tell of a second trip of Magdalene to Jesus’ sepulcher. She was headstrong! She went, she returned . . . because she was not convinced! This time her step is slow, very heavy. Mary suffers doubly: first of all because of Jesus’ Death, and then because of the inexplicable disappearance of His body.
It is while she is kneeling close to the tomb, with her eyes filled with tears, that God surprises her in the most unexpected way. The evangelist John stresses how persistent her blindness was: she is not aware of the presence of two Angels who question her, and does not even get suspicious seeing the man behind her, that she thinks is the guardian of the garden. And instead she discovers the most overwhelming event of human history, when she is finally called by her name: “Mary!” (v. 6).
How lovely it is to think that the first apparition of the Risen One — according to the Gospels — happened in such a personal way! That there is Someone who knows us, who sees our suffering and disappointment, and who is moved for us, and calls us by name. It is a law that we find engraved in many pages of the Gospel. There are so many persons that seek God around Jesus, but the most prodigious reality is that, long before, it is first of all God who is concerned for our life, who wants to uplift it, and to do this He calls us by name, recognizing each one’s personal face. Every man is a story of love that God writes on this earth. Every one of us is a story of God’s love. God calls every one of us by our name: He knows us by name, He looks at us, He waits for us, He forgives us, He has patience with us. Is this true or is it not true? Every one of us has this experience.
4. Even with the disappointments in our life, there is a God close to us and tells us: “Rise, stop crying, because I have come to free you!”
And Jesus calls her: “Mary!”: the revolution of her life, the revolution destined to transform the existence of every man and woman, begins with a name that echoes in the garden of the empty sepulcher. The Gospel describes for us Mary’s happiness: Jesus’ Resurrection is not a joy given in dribs and drabs but a cascade that assails the whole of life. Christian existence is not woven of soft happiness, but of waves that overwhelm everything. You also try to think at this moment, with the baggage of disappointments and defeats that each one bears in the heart, that there is a God close to us who calls us by name and says to us: “Rise, stop crying, because I have come to free you!” This is beautiful.
5. Our God dreams of the transformation of the world, carried out through His Resurrection. Our strength and hope: I have changed because I have seen the Lord.
Jesus is not one who adapts Himself to the world, tolerating that in it death, sadness, hatred, the moral destruction of persons should endure … Our God is not inert, But our God – I permit myself the word – is a dreamer: He dreams of the transformation of the world, and He realized it in the mystery of the Resurrection.
Mary wanted to embrace her Lord, but He is now oriented to the celestial Father, while she is sent to bring the announcement to brothers. And so that woman, who before encountering Jesus was at the mercy of the Evil One (Cf. Luke 8:2), has now become apostle of the new and greatest hope. May her intercession help us also to live this experience: in the hour of weeping and in the hour of abandonment, to listen to the Risen Jesus who calls us by name and, with a heart full of joy, go to announce: “I have seen the Lord!” (v. 18). I have changed my life because I saw the Lord! Now I am different from before, I am another person. I have changed because I saw the Lord. This is our strength and this is our hope. Thank you.
[Original text: Italian] [Translation by Virginia M. Forrester]