Day 2


Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”

Matthew 4:17

Reflection & novena prayers written by Jennifer Ristine and illustrated by Danielle Storey.

One thing I love about Mary Magdalene is that she was human.  Like men and women since Adam and Eve, she knew the reality of sin. She fought the battle that takes place in the depth of the human heart when misguided or ill-formed freedom gives into desires that snuff out God’s life within.  The evangelists labeled her as the “woman from whom Jesus expelled seven demons” (Luke 8:2).  What were those seven demons?  Theories abound:  a mental illness, epilepsy, schizophrenia, or a real possession?

Mary Magdalene’s seven demons, whatever their cause, represent the real threat in every person’s life: idols.  Idols come in many forms and take the shape of misconstrued loves, from self-idolatry through pride to the subtle ways I replace the real God with the things of God.  How easy it is to put my securities in the possession of material goods, the success of my own endeavors, affirmations from others, my attempt to control circumstances, and all the subtle idols that bind me when I pursue self-seeking satisfactions.

The reality of temptation and the possibility of sin cannot be ignored.  Like Mary Magdalene, our hearts are the battleground where choices are made between the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan.  Jesus came to fight this battle and has conquered sin and death, the consequences of Satan’s reign.  From the first moment of Jesus’s public life, he overcame temptations posed by Satan.  His first recorded words were an urgent invitation, “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand!”  (Mt 4:17).

From the shores of the Sea of Galilee in Magdala, Mary may have heard those words.  The biting torment of conscience in her spirit acted as a warning that something was amiss.  But Jesus’s words were far from chastisement. They were an invitation.  He extends that invitation to each one of us, every day.   May our first step be to recognize our shortcomings and sinfulness in the context of God the Father’s waiting and open arms.

Heavenly Father, you desire your children to return to your embrace.  Enlighten me by your Holy Spirit to clearly see the idols that seek to establish themselves in my heart, taking the place reserved for your Son, Jesus Christ.  Grant me true repentance for my sins and the desire to love you above all else.  Hear the plea of all those estranged from friendship with you, especially those experiencing loneliness, confusion, and despair, and those who explicitly reject you.  Send your Spirit with salutary gifts, leading to a conversion of heart and courage for a new beginning.  Amen.    

St. Mary Magdalene, pray for us.

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