Do you know what the Church calls Mary Magdalene? Her title is “Equal to the Apostles. This title is given to a few saints who, like the Apostles themselves, excelled in the witness and proclamation of the Good News of the Resurrection of Christ. After all, as St. Paul declares, “if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.” 1 Corinthians 15:14
The Church places such great importance on the declaration of the Resurrection of Christ, and the Good News of the Kingdom of God, that it recognizes those who strive to share the Good News of the message of faith so we will all know this is a central and foundational characteristic of our ChristiN faith.
And St. Mary Magdalene is one of those few saints given the title Equal to the Apostles.
Let’s look at the life of St. Mary and discover what produced the life that led to her designation as one of the Equal to the Apostles.
In today’s gospel lesson we see Mary’s life summed up in this phrase: “Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their means.” St. Luke 8:3
Mary’s life brought her to the place of eternal memory by three distinct characteristics of all those who are worthy of such.
First, Mary followed Christ. Now to really follow Someone takes two indispensable traits – Trust and Humility. You will never truly follow someone you don’t really trust and you will never follow someone you don’t truly believe has some gifts or insights that you need yourself. Trust and humility free us to follow Christ and be transformed by Him. All too often today, we are more than willing to declare Christ a “good man” and a wise teacher. But we stop short of actually moving from mere admiration to discipleship. If we are going to learn from St. Mary’s worthy life, we, too, are going to have to trust and humbly follow Christ.
Next, Mary served Christ. She and some other ladies provided for Christ and the Apostles from their means. Mary saw that being a follower of Christ was more than mere lip service. She “put her money where her mouth” was! Notice Mary is also called Myrrh-bearer. She was one of the ladies rave enough to follow Christ after His crucifixion while the other disciples were hiding in fear. She went with the other ladies to finish the burial customs of the day, and it was in this desire to serve Christ that made her one of the first witnesses of the Resurrection. But, you know, that is always the case. Those willing to serve are always in the right place at the right time. Service puts you in the right spot to see God do the work everyone else, too caught up in their self-centered lives, miss because they were “busy” doing something else than serving God.
Finally, Mary loved Christ. Now I’m not talking about the Dan Brown “Mary and Jesus were married” crowd. Ridiculous! This old slander has been around for centuries in an attempt to immune the Person of Jesus and to blunt the message of the Christian faith. It’s like all those other stories. It is really simple – produce a Body and Christianity disappears. The Resurrection is the lynch pin of the Christian faith. No Resurrection – no Church. No, this love for Christ flowed from Mary’s heart of gratitude for Christ setting her free from her old life. I’m never surprised to see lukewarm faith in those who have never come to see just how much Jesus has done for them. Blinded by their own self sufficiency, they are unable to ever feel the gratitude to God for all He has done for them. This keeps them enslaved to their small world and they never rise to the level of genuine love for God. But Mary did, and her love for Christ made her Equal to the Apostles.
Today, how is your discipleship to Christ? Are you on the path to eternal memory? You know, you can be. All it takes is a willingness to finally see and embrace the absolutely amazing love God has always had for you. All it takes is a willingness to be set free by that love to become what you were created to be – God’s eternal companion. Let us strive to become “Equal to the Apostles” by sharing all the Good News we have with everyone we meet. Today is Mary’s feast day, let’s honor her by learning from her.