Devotion for Wednesday, July 22, 2020
Lectionary Readings for the Festival of St. Mary Magdalene – July 22:
Psalm 73:1, 23-28
John 20:1-2, 10-18
Collect: Almighty God, Your Son, Jesus Christ, restored Mary Magdalene to health and called her to be the first witness of His resurrection. Heal us from all our infirmities, and call us to know You in the power of Your Son’s unending life; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Hymns of the Day: “Now All the Vault of Heav’n Resounds” – (LSB 465)
Also recommended: “For all the Faithful Women” – (LSB 855. sts 1, 8, 3, 4)
Saints’ days are a blessing to the Church. I know I’ve mentioned this before, but it bears repeating. They’re not a blessing because we pray to them and they bless us. It’s not a blessing because intercede for us to God or look out for us from heaven. No. They are a blessing to us to help us see the work that God can do to share His love to the world through the hands of normal, everyday people. The real blessing here too is that God rarely uses actual ‘normal every day people’ with good reputation and upstanding values, but instead, the people who we tend to look down on in our everyday lives for no good reason except for their social standings and poor decisions.
Today’s Saint is a prime example of this. The first we see of St. Mary in the Scriptures is in Luke 8: “1 Soon afterward [Jesus] went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with him, 2 and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out,” (Lk 8:1-2) And from an early time she has been said to be the woman who anointed Jesus’ feet with ointment from an alabaster flask, after washing them with her tears and drying them with her hair, in thanksgiving to Him for his actions towards her in Luke 7. Being called a sinner by the pharisees (Luke 7:39), she was assumed by many scholars to have been a prostitute, despite the Scriptures never saying it. Such a bad reputation, looked down on my so many at the time.
But not by Jesus.
Regardless of her sins, her faith granted her forgiveness. Her Saviour cast the demons out of her body, and then proceeded to cleanse her soul with his words of absolution. Even if that were all that she did in Scripture, that would still be worth remembering, how no matter our sins, God, through Jesus Christ, forgives, but that wasn’t all God deigned to do through her.
St. Mary was given, arguably, the greatest honour in all of history! She was given the blessing of being the first one to not only see her risen Lord, but also the first one to be told to go and tell others about it! St. Mary was the first Evangelist! She was the first one to be charged by Christ Himself to go and tell the good news of His victory over sin, death, and the devil. But not only that, she was told by the Lord to go and tell His very apostles! For this she is honoured as the “apostle to the apostles,” and she will be remembered for God’s good work through her just as Jesus proclaims to the Pharisees back in Matthew 26:13: “Truly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her.” And remembered she is – not as the sinner she was, but as the forgiven sinner blessed by God that she had become through Him.
My fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, if I could be remembered for anything once my time in this life is over, I would wish for the same – Not that I was accomplished or successful; Not that I was a good son or father; Not that I was a faithful Christian or pastor; Not that I was honest or fair. No. I pray, that when my hour has come, that I will be remembered as St. Mary is remembered: not as the sinner I was, but as the forgiven sinner blessed by God that I had become through Him.
That is also my prayer for all of you. That when the final trumpet sounds, our Saviour will look at you and not see you the sinner, but that He would smile and say those blessed words: “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Not because of what you had accomplished in this life, but because of what He had accomplished in and through you, just as He did with St. Mary.