July 22, 2019 - Freedom or Slavery? - A Reflection on John 20:1-2,11-18 - Feast of Mary Magdalene
The story of Mary Magdalene is a story of great hope and courage for every person who has lived a sinful and troubled life. Which, if we are honest, is most of us. I have yet to meet a person who is not messed up in one way or another; it is only a matter of degree. So we can all be inspired by her story.
I have already spoken about Mary Magdalene at length in two previous reflection (see April 23: The Magdalene; December 27, 2018 - Why Are You Weeping?). I explained that there was a strong case to be made for her being the same woman described: 1) as the sinful woman who washed the feet of Jesus at a Pharisees house (see Luke 7:36-50); 2) the sister of Martha and Lazarus (see Luke 10:38-52); and, 3) the woman who had seven demons cast out of her.
Regardless of whether we accept this as the story of three separate women, or just one, the transforming power of forgiveness and grace is clearly evident. Mary Magdalene leaves her sinful ways and follows Jesus, yoked to him for the rest of her life. Many years ago, there was a man named David who stopped doing things that were “evil” in God’s sight and turned to a life of holiness. He became permanently yoked to God thereafter. They are both heroes today.
What it takes to change is heartfelt remorse. If we are not truly sorry for the evil that we do, and constantly justify our actions, nothing changes. We will continue to engage in sexual immorality, continue to get stoned on alcohol or drugs, continue to use and abuse other people, and remain the pitiful slaves to the devil that we have always been. Mary Magdalene was a slave to seven such demons. But Jesus freed her, as he will free anybody who desires freedom.
But freedom is a choice. We can choose to be free. Or we can choose to be slaves. And the choice is really simple. Paul exhorts: “Hate what is evil. Love what is good” (Romans 12:9). If we love what is evil, we choose slavery. If we hate evil and love good, we choose freedom. And then, not only will God set us free, he will elevate us to great heights in his eyes. He ended up calling David a man after his own heart. And he chose to appear to Mary Magdalene first after his resurrection. What an honor.
Let us hate what is evil and love what is good. And God will honor us too.