Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity feature Archdiocese of Milwaukee Deacon Dominic Lazzaroni’s comments on St. Mary Magdalene as shared in the recent St. Frances Cabrini Parish, West Bend, Wisconsin bulletin. Our image of the saint is a colorful stained-glass window from St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Ellsworth, Wisconsin. Pastor is Fr. David Olson. Both parishes are welcoming communities of faith.
This upcoming Saturday, July 22, is the feast of St. Mary Magdalene, the Apostle to the Apostles. Mary Magdalene is known by this title because of her role recounted in the Gospel of John where she is the first to meet the risen Christ after the Resurrection; following this encounter, she runs with haste to the Apostles to tell them the joyful news of Christ’s victory over death. “Apostle” comes from the Greek “apostolos”, meaning “messenger” or “one sent forth”. Thus the title “Apostle to the Apostles” is fittingly given to this great Saint, as she is the messenger of the good news of Christ’s Resurrection to those eleven remaining Apostles, the men sent forth by the Lord to spread the Gospel to the ends of the earth.
This is one of the great gifts the Lord has given to the Church: the Lord entrusts us, imperfect and seemingly insignificant as we are, to make known his presence among us, to make known his good and miraculous works, to make known the depth of his goodness. The Lord spreads his Gospel through community, specifically through his Church and its members. This happens not only for the sake of those exterior to the Church, but also for those within the Church, to strengthen them and draw them closer to Christ, as seen in St. Mary Magdalene who was tasked with evangelizing the very pillars of the Church, the Apostles themselves.
It can be tempting to think this of ourselves as unfit and unworthy for so noble a task, but take confidence in Mary Magdalene. Take courage in the fact that this woman thought to be a wayward sinner would stand firm at the foot of the cross when all the Apostles but John had fled. Take strength in the fact that this woman who had been possessed by seven demons would be the first to cling to the risen Lord. Take solace in the fact that this woman who wept in confusion at the empty tomb would be the first to confidently proclaim Christ’s Resurrection, saying, “I have seen the Lord!”.
I will always remember this upcoming feast day, July 22, in a special way, as it marks the anniversary of priestly ordination for Fr. John Baumgardner, who was the seminarian at my home parish when I was in high school. While he was yet a seminarian, Fr. Baumgardner encouraged me to consider seminary myself once I began to hear the Lord’s call. You could say Fr. John was, in a sense, a Mary Magdalene figure in my life, a messenger to me, I who am now sent forth to be a messenger for others. So, do not be afraid to be like Mary Magdalene. Share with others the glory of the Lord revealed in your life. Encourage vocations. Listen for where the Lord is calling you to call others, even in your imperfections.