Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Mary Magdalane--a model for handling shame: Daily Mass Homily--Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014 (Memorial of Mary Magdalene)

           I have been reading an interesting book by Brene Brown—a researcher and psychologist who has focused on vulnerability and shame—called Daring Greatly.  Her basic premise is that, while it is easier to sit on the sidelines of life and to be critical, it is much better to be in the arena struggling to live wholeheartedly.  While this is challenging it is much more fulfilling and is what God wants.
            I mention this on this memorial of St. Mary Magdalene because she probably felt a lot of shame in her own life.  There are many Mary’s in the Gospels (Mary, the Mother of Jesus, Mary the mother of James and John, Mary the sister of Lazarus, Mary Magdalene, etc.) so it is difficult to know for sure some key information about Mary Magdalene.  The Gospels agree that she was possessed by seven demons that Jesus cast out.  She may have been a prostitute.
            Either way, Mary brought the shame she had (and imagine the potential shame of being possessed!) to the feet of Jesus.  With humility and on her knees, she wiped his feet with tears of repentance.  Jesus forgave her.
            In the Gospel Mary Magdalene is the first to understand that Jesus rose from the dead.  She told this to Peter and later the apostles, for which she deservedly has been called Apostle to the Apostles.  This understanding came in a mysterious way—at first Mary didn’t recognize Jesus.  Yet after saying her name—“Mary”—she understood.
            May we, like Mary Magdalene, bring all of our shame, guilt and confusion to the Lord.  He will call us, too, by name, forgive us our sins and commission us to preach the Good News.

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