July 22 was a special day in the Catholic Church, and even more special for Magdala. It was a day to celebrate a woman’s role in evangelizing. It was a day to celebrate the life-giving freedom of being made new in Christ and being sent to announce the good news: Jesus is alive!
After the Vatican’s decree that the feast day celebrating Mary Magdalene would be upgraded to the level of that of the apostles, I couldn’t help marvel at the gift of being able to celebrate it in her own hometown this year.
For the last two years I have studied and read much about this enigmatic historical figure, changing my own focus, from that of the prostitute to the passionate and faith-filled follower of Jesus that she became. For years, what struck me most about Mary Magdalene was something that must be read between the lines of the gospel: her encounter with Jesus. Luke 8:2 merely mentions her as the one “from whom seven demons were expelled”. My own imagination and the grace of prayer permitted an elaboration on the experience of her heart: the depth of freedom, joy, gratitude and peace experienced in her encounter with the personal, unconditional and merciful love of Jesus.
In Magdala, we pray that all our visitors will have this experience in their own lives. When it happens, one cannot remain silent. One’s life becomes a voice that cries out, JESUS IS ALIVE!
By Jennifer Ristine