Nine Days with Mary Magdalene – Day 6


Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, 
Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 

John 19:25

What moves the heart of a woman to overcome fear and human respect, remaining steadfast at the cross?  Not mere emotion, but rather conviction and love.  Only an authentic, maturing love kept Mary Magdalene anchored in her determination to be present with Jesus to the end, while the tumultuous sea of sorrow, confusion, and pain practically drowned her.   Awe, wonder, and peace at the site of humanity’s redemption at hand would have to wait until her understanding of God’s plan came to light.  In her observation of the bloody disfigurement of her beloved “Rabboni,” horror and anger at the injustice fueled her decision to see him accompanied.  She would not abandon him.

Mary Magdalene may have been at the foot of the cross regardless of John and the other women’s presence, but the desire to remain in solidarity with her friends was an added incentive.  Untold lessons were forged in her heart in those three life-giving hours.  As she stood with Jesus’s mother, the Magdalene could glimpse what true love was capable of enduring.  A mother’s love, this mother’s love, bore fruit in silent suffering and deep faith, for she, more than anyone, knew who her Son was.  Prophecies of a suffering servant who “was pierced for our transgressions” sustained hope as they recalled the triumphant verse, “After he has suffered, he will see the light of life and be satisfied” (Isaiah 53). And faith was nourished by a song in which a messiah figure, seemingly forsaken by God yet righteous and remembered by future generations, is victorious (Psalm 22).

The Christian life inevitably entails suffering.  Call it a path of purification.  In those moments, Mary Magdalene encourages us to remain steadfast in faith, hope, and love at the foot of the cross.  She teaches us that we are not merely following a crucified Christ whom we are called to imitate, nor are we called to simply throw up our hands and passively endure what we cannot control.  She teaches us to enter into the mystery of redemptive suffering itself, when life circumstances don’t pan out according to our logic.

As Christians, we are called to see beyond what life brings us and discover that the Lord opens a path of beatifying the soul through faith, trust, and love.  He welcomes us into the crucible of purification so as to burn away impediments to holiness, namely selfishness.  After journeying with the Lord, listening and heeding his Word, and striving to be faithful followers, we can easily think that we deserve a trophy for our achievements.  But the Lord’s love seeks to bring us deeper into his heart, identifying with his being for-the-other.  He invites us to enter the mystery of his divine heart that fears not to suffer for love.  Like Mary Magdalene, may we learn this from the school of Jesus’s cross and from his first disciple, his Mother.

Lord Jesus, you invite us to a deeper love by uniting our suffering to your cross.  Help us to see life’s sufferings through the heart of the Father who desires to bring us to the fullness of life in and through you.  Help all who suffer to look to you, realizing the beauty and redemptive power of a life laid down for love of another.  Help us to remain steadfast in faith, hope, and love.  Amen.

St. Mary Magdalene, pray for us.


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