The figure of Mary Magdalene in the Gospel is somewhat mysterious. She is sometimes identified with the woman caught in adultery (Jn 8:1-11) from who Jesus casts out seven demons and also as the first person to witness the resurrection (Jn 20: 1-2, 11-18). It is impossible to identify her exactly barring some new evidence or texts coming to light that help in this task.

As we honor her commitment to the Lord today we can do so under many different senses. The one I wish to focus upon is her willingness to let go of an old way of life and embrace a new one. This combines the witness of the two texts above in demonstrating that she moves from a life of sin (adulteress – note that she does not deny the accusations brought against her), to a life of witness in that God chose her to be the first witness of the resurrection. This is an enormous change, similar to that of Paul of Tarsus in its magnitude.

The reason I want to focus on this as it ought to be a source of hope and consolation for us that nothing is impossible for God. It does not matter where we have been and what we have done; what it matters is whether or not we are willing to repent and change our lives for the better. This is the essence of conversion. If it is possible for Mary Magdalene (and for Paul for that matter) then it ought also be possible for us! This is a source of great hope for us.

Despair is a great enemy of the Gospel and conversion as in it we lose sight of the power of God to transform our lives. In the story of Mary Magdalene we see the power of God very clearly and thus have a clear antidote to the temptation of despair. If God has done this marvelous work in her life then he has the power to do it in mine as well. This is the Good News of our salvation. Let us proclaim it to all who are willing to listen.

Am I prone to despair in my life? Do I ever fall into the ‘stinking thinking’ that my sins are just too many and too big for God to deal with? If so you are the victim of a lie!

Jesus, transform my life! Help me to believe and trust that no matter what sins I have or may commit in the future your love is big enough to forgive me and cleanse my life of them.