View all Novenas | July 17, 2020
WATCH THE REPLAY from the Encounter Chapel in Magdala or a reflection on the theme of ‘Personally’ by Kathleen Nichols, CRC!
DAY 5 – INTERVIEW WITH FR. JOHN JIRAK
Fr. John Jirak is a priest of the Diocese of Wichita, Kansas. He grew up on a pig farm in rural central Kansas. He is the oldest of five children. After receiving a degree in agribusiness he entered the seminary and eventually attended major seminary at the Pontifical College Josephinum where he received a master’s degree in dogmatic theology. He was ordained a priest in 2002. In 2007, Fr. Jirak attained his licentiate in canon law in May of 2010 from Catholic University of America. He is currently at the Church of the Magdalen and serving as Diocesan Vicar of Evangelization, Discipleship and Stewardship as well as a judge on the diocesan tribunal.
Fr John will share with us his vision and understanding of Mary Magdalene, her relevance for us today, her appeal to those desiring deeper healing, and how Mary Magdalene’s encounter with Christ has informed his ministry as a priest and Vicar for Evangelization in his diocese.
DAY 5 – WALKING WITH JESUS
“Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; Joanna the wife of Chuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means.” Luke 8:1-3
Reflection & novena prayers written by Jennifer Ristine and illustrated by Danielle Storey.
Following Jesus may seem like a romantic ideal, until the novelty wears off. I imagine that with the passing of time, Mary Magdalene entertained doubts about continuing her journey with the Lord. But she walked on. Her nickname, “the Magdalene” has its root in the Hebrew word migdal, meaning tower, alluding to the strength and courage she must have had to persevere in walking with Jesus.
Scripture testifies to the fact that she was one of the women supporting Jesus out of her own means. But that doesn’t mean she was offering respite to Jesus and his disciples in the Comfort Inn every night. Jesus did not promise an easy road. To those who eagerly desired to follow him he offered a reality check, “The Son of Man has no place to lay his head” (Luke 9:58) and “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow me” (Luke 9:23). If that wasn’t enough to scare her away Jesus also warned of suffering and rejection by the Jewish authorities (Luke 9:22). His invitation to commitment was not for the faint of heart. He wanted his disciples’ “Yes” to be a solid “Yes.” “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62).
The glow of the first conversion may have faded out after long, dusty, and tired days of following Jesus from town to town, watching the leaders challenge Jesus’s teachings, and not always understanding his ways. But faith, trust, and love matured in the crucible of purification. Initially, she thought that she, with her resources, was providing for Jesus. She soon learned that there was one Great Provider. She had to hold onto Jesus’s promise of a heavenly Father who provides all things. “Do not worry about your life,” Jesus proclaimed, assuring them that their heavenly Father knows what they need (Mt 6:25,32).
Jesus invites us, not to a life of hardship, but to an ever-deeper friendship, identifying with his love for his Father and all people in his willingness to lay down his life. He invites us to enter a new realm of thinking, understanding, feeling, believing, trusting, and loving. He invites us into the Kingdom of heaven. The key is childlike trust. We are called to offer our time, treasure, and talents, not seeking our own securities and glory; but rather, with single-mindedness, seeking the heart of Christ. His program of the blessed life demands poverty of spirit, meekness, mercy, purity of heart, and perseverance through persecution (Mt 6:3-11). He reminds us to keep our eyes on “his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Mt 6:34).
As we walk with Jesus, we hold onto the same promise that Mary once heard, “Truly I tell you…no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age…—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life” (Mark 10:29-30).
Heavenly Father, I trust in you. Teach me to walk with Jesus, abandoning all pretenses and securities so as to seek only the Kingdom of heaven in faith, trust, and love. Help me to be steadfast in my commitment to you. Grant all pastors, religious, consecrated persons, and missionaries a special grace to leave all behind as they walk with you. Amen.
St. Mary Magdalene, pray for us.
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