The more you look into Mary Magdalene’s story, the more you realize that she really got it right.
‘It’ being ‘Christian discipleship.’
Although Mary (whose feast the Church celebrates today) was a member of Jesus’ inner circle, she apparently wasn’t in charge of anything: Jesus didn’t call her to be one of the Twelve.
And yet, she did demonstrate this marvelous grace: She showed up.
Throughout the early days of Jesus’ public ministry in Galilee, Mary Magdalene was there…listening to him proclaim the Good News, and providing for the needs of others out of her own resources. She stayed close to Jesus, perhaps simply out of gratitude that he had driven vexing demons from her life.
She showed up, too, at the time of Jesus’ greatest need during his days on earth. Mary Magdalene stood at the foot of the cross, witnessing his cruel execution – unable to do much of anything but watch and pray, and perhaps offer a word of comfort. She showed up, when just about all the others had let their faith wither…when everyone else had calculated the cost, and had—at least for a time—found the price of discipleship too high to pay.
Most intriguingly, Mary Magdalene was still showing up two days later, when all the world remained in darkness. When all seemed lost, her deepest hope buried alongside Jesus’ lifeless body in the tomb.
Mary showed up…and was granted a unique grace: the opportunity to become (as Pope Benedict XVI once put it) ‘the first witness and herald of the Risen One.’ Christ made her (a woman, no less!) Apostle to the Apostles.
So yes, I think you’d have to say that Mary Magdalene got the most important part of Christian discipleship right. She showed up, and put herself entirely at the Lord’s disposal. She showed up…and was able to recognize the living Lord in the face of one she at first supposed to be the gardener.
All of which makes me wonder: Where am I being called to show up today? And will I recognize the Master’s voice as easily as Mary Magdalene did…whenever the Lord speaks my name?
Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy One.