Homily – Mary of Magdala – a celebration for all women and men

Dear Friends,

A group of 18 of us met on the farm today for mass and lunch outdoors and we couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful day! There was a wonderful breeze, excellent food and conversation. We are truly enjoying being together in person once again and we missed all of you who couldn’t join us today.

May this next week be one of peace and joy for you and all your family members–Lovingly–Pastor Kathy


Homily—Mary of Magdala—Apostle to the Apostles

July 25, 2021

   My friends, this is our 10th Mary of Magdala celebration—since we began in 2011 with this annual celebration of Mary and all women, missing only the year that Robert and I journeyed to Alaska after my retirement, in 2015. 

   Mary of Magdala is a wonderful model for women and for men—I add the men for it seems that if the hierarchy within our Church and its male priests could be more like her and by extension—all men—our Church would truly flourish. 

   What do I mean by that? Mary of Magdala knew her heart and because of knowing her heart, which in the end, is all about love; she found her voice to share the Good News of her brother in faith—her friend, Jesus. This past week, our national and international group of RCWP women and men (a few) met on Zoom for a conference that we have every 2-3 years when all, who can make it, are invited to attend.

   We discussed how we continue the mystery of God working through women for almost 20 years now—next year being this milestone.  What several of us looked at in a joint homily, myself included, was the importance of “listening” —first within ourselves for what our good God is asking of us for the people of God, and then to all others who have, “a piece of the truth” to share about how we women might better serve them by inclusion, openness and willingness to try new ways to invite and make feel welcome, all—everyone at the table. 

   One whole day of the conference was devoted to the issue of systemic racism and that will be the “stuff” of future homilies.  Suffice it to say, our speaker, a black, religious woman, catacomb priest with us, for obvious reasons, shared the words of another, “Racism is as American as baseball.”

   So, just like with racism, our country has a great deal to do with truly understanding how deep within our very DNA is, “sexism.”  Those who are apt to bypass the condemnation of Mary in the first centuries of the Church, as a prostitute and look deeper, have discovered that she probably suffered from a mental illness and in the past, this was called, “being possessed by devils,” of which Jesus freed her.  Only those among us who have in fact suffered a mental illness, or depression that is debilitating, or still do, can truly understand the gratitude she would have felt in being finally freed of such a torment.  And those who can go deeper, as our brother Jesus did, are able to look at what is in a person’s heart and not hold it against them for how they happened to have been born—something they had no say in.  We, my friends, should do the same, whether it be with regard to race, gender, age—whatever!

   And we cannot truly remember Mary of Magdala without also remembering the attempt by past Church fathers to lump all the Marys in Scripture into a composite with the stand-out characteristic being, that she was a prostitute.  In this way, she would not be remembered until very recent times for who she truly was— prophet, priest, and apostle to the apostles.

      Mary of Magdala is someone who calls each of us as Jesus’ followers to our best selves—to knowing our hearts, which means we will always present to our world and its people the face of love, instead of our heads and the rule of law—a place our so-called, “leaders,” many within the NCCB seem stuck at present.   As we have always said in this community; we need laws to guide our path, but not at the expense of love.  If love fails to be served in any situation of law, then there is something wrong with the law. 

   In Jesus’ time, women were expected to keep silence and their opinions were generally not thought much of in public.  When Mary reported to the male apostles that, “She had seen Jesus, the Teacher!” their response was pathetic—they didn’t believe her and had to go and see for themselves!  And today, like this ages’ old response in Jesus’ time, the hierarchical response of men in positions of power in our beloved Church is to, not believe as well—not believe that the God they purport to follow could actually call a woman to be a priest or to lead in any significant way!

   So, my friends; we meet today to remember a valiant woman—one who led with her heart—with courage and truth, always keeping the path clear that followed in her friend, mentor, and savior’s footsteps. That is all, really, that any of us need do in our world of 2021 to be able to say with conviction that we follow Jesus of Nazareth, who is the Christ—lead with our heart.  Our speaker on “racism” said in response to racism within the Catholic church, we, as a body, need to take ownership for the ways our church was involved from the very beginning with enslaving others and sincerely apologize for that involvement.  Simply put, she encouraged us to, “Just do Jesus!  Just do Jesus! And that call is just as needed today where women are concerned—in our Church and Country. “Just do Jesus!”

   In conclusion, as we have already shared Sister Joan Chittister’s Litany of Women for the Church—who by the way, is a prophet in her own right—I wanted to include in my ending, her assessment of who Mary of Magdala is for our Church:

   “Mary Magdalene is, no doubt about it, an important icon for the twenty-first century. 

She calls women to listen to the call of the Christ over the call of the church.

She calls men to listen for the call of the Christ in the messages of women.

She calls women to courage and men to humility.

She calls all of us to faith and fortitude, to unity and universalism, to a Christianity that rises above sexism, a religion that transcends the idolatry of maleness, a commitment to the things of God that surmount every obstacle and surpasses every system. 

 Mary Magdalene is a shining light of hope, a disciple of Christ, a model of the wholeness of life, in a world whose name is despair and in a church whose vision is yet, still, even now, partial.”

When we reflect on these words, I think you can see why Mary of Magdala is a wonderful model for all, men as well as women.

   Mary of Magdala said with great faith and love, “I have seen the Teacher!” That truth was not accepted but it did not diminish the importance of it being said. 

Friends, if we too have seen our brother, Jesus, then we must say so—we cannot remain silent by how we live and act in our world! Or even more simply put, we must, “Just Do Jesus!”   Amen? Amen!