Saturday, April 7, 2018

Faithfulness, Gratitude, Determination

In today's Gospel, Mark 16:9-15, we learn that the first person to whom Jesus appeared after He rose from the dead was "Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons".  Given the fact that she had "seven demons" cast out of her, we may perceive her as someone to "discard," someone with whom to have nothing to do and certainly not one to a believe that she had seen the risen Christ.  That may have been why the apostles did not believe her but it was also true, at the time of Jesus, that women had no legal backing to be witnesses to anything. In fact in many of the Gospel events/stories, women are never counted.  In our own day, women, also, tend to be dismissed, especially by men in "positions". Look at attitudes toward women being elected to the presidency here in the U.S. or women being ordained priests in the Catholic Church, though Jesus included women in His ministry; in fact, as the first to proclaim the resurrection.

Cultural and ecclesial positions cemented in minds for centuries do not, however, dismiss the fact that all persons--men and women, young and old, gay and straight, children and adults, persons of all races--are called, by their baptism, to proclaim Christ, to stand up for their faith just as all the women did in Jesus' time and as did Peter and John and all the apostles.  The culture in which Mary Magdalene lived did not stop her from seeking Jesus in life and in death. The violence she could have faced did not deter her from being close by when Jesus was condemned to death. She followed Him up the hill to Calvary, stood by the cross with Mary, Jesus' mother, and was the first at the tomb Easter morn, unafraid of the guards or anyone else. Fear did not stop her. She became her best self in spite of her culture and its stance toward women.

What about you and I? How strong is our faith? How strong is our desire to draw close to Jesus and be of service to Him?  What gets in our way of becoming our true selves?

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