In our Catholic tradition, the end of July and the beginning of August give us many interesting stories of different people who have turned, with the help of Jesus, into saints. One such person is Mary Magdalene, who has in the past few years been elevated to afeast equal to that of the twelve apostles in our tradition. Mary is a favorite personage of mine and has been for a number of years for various reasons. She has never been portrayed as a totally good person. Although it is not in the Bible, she was often identified as a prostitute. She is also confused with Mary of Bethany, the woman who anointed the feet of Jesus with expensive oil and then dried them with her hair and tears while the apostles stand looking, shaking their heads saying that the perfume could have been sold and the money spent on the poor. Actually, all that the bible really says is that Jesus freed her from seven demons so there must have been some struggles in her life.
However, it is more than these things that I wish to focus on in this column. Mary Magdalene is one of the women who follows Jesus and the apostles as they travel from village to village preaching the gospel and explaining to the people about God’s kingdom and a new way of living. She ministers to them often by fixing meals and doing whatever else might be needed by the apostles and Jesus and the crowds who follow them. In the end, she is one of the people who stand by Jesus through his trial, his crucifixion and then finally is the one who comes to the tomb first on Easter Sunday morning and realizes that he indeed has risen. She goes back to his disciples who are locked away in a room fearful of the Jews to tell them what has happened. When she finds the tomb empty she encounters a man whom she thinks is the gardener and she asks him where they have taken Jesus’ body. It is only when Jesus says her name "Mary" and she answers "Rabboni," meaning teacher, that she realizes that it truly is Jesus. He then tells her not to cling to him but to go back and tell his disciples that he is risen and that he will appear to them. She then truly becomes the apostle to the apostles.She is the one who lets the apostles know that they are going to be okay and that Jesus is going to come back to them as he has said. She is the one who has heard her name being called and she knows that it is her mission to spread the good news of the resurrection. She has overcome everything and has truly become a saint.