Feast of Saint Mary Magdalene
(Song of Songs 3:1-4b; John 20:1-2.11-18)
Of Gods and Men is a movie about contemporary martyrs in Algeria. In one poignant a young woman asks her monk-doctor what love is like. He replies that it is “an attraction, a desire, a quickening of the spirits, an intensification of life itself.” The monk admits that he had fallen in love a number of times. Why didn’t he ever marry? He says that he met a greater love that led him to the monastery. Something like this may be said of Jesus.
Mary Magdalene is sometimes portrayed as Jesus’ lover and even his wife. There is no basis for these claims either in Scripture or in any other reliable source of antiquity. However, today’s gospel indicates Mary’s physical attraction to him. Yet, like the monk-doctor, Jesus knows a greater love - the love for his Father - which led him to the cross. Meanwhile, Mary Magdalene did not spend her time pining the loss of Jesus. Rather she announced his resurrection into glory.
Mary Magdalene can help us appreciate our own sexuality. Just because we are attracted to someone should not allow us to harbor erotic desires. As Mary with Jesus we cannot cling to these desires except, of course, for the one we will make our life’s partner. Clinging to that person should even lead us to the Lord Jesus.