“Whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
Today is the feast day of Saint Mary Magdalene, a Saint whose name is very familiar.
Recent pop culture has produced some wildly untrue stories about her, such as in the book-made-movie, The Da Vinci Code. Many Christians think of her as a prostitute turned disciple of Jesus, but Scripture and tradition have made clear certain things about her
Here’s what scripture does tell us about Mary Magdalene: Jesus had cast seven demons out of her. (Luke 8:2) She was part a group of women who helped care for Jesus and the Apostles. (Luke 8:3) She was at Jesus’ crucifixion (Matthew 27:56) and burial (Mark 15:47). And as we see in today’s Gospel passage, she met the newly risen Lord at the tomb on Easter morning. She was the first follower of Christ to see Him after He rose from the dead. (Mark 16:9)
Tradition also tells us that she is Mary of Bethany, the sister of Martha, the one who sat at Jesus’ feet while her sister worked in the kitchen. (Luke 10:38-42, John 11) We see from this the great conversion she had from a sinner to a devout lover of Christ, her Lord. Her life was one of sin and spiritual captivity until Jesus healed her, and she spent the rest of her life following Him.
It’s natural to want to know more about what her backstory might have been, but I like that Scripture doesn’t give that to us. Whatever her past sins were, they don’t matter anymore. The only thing that matters is that Jesus made her new.
She once was stuck in sin, and Jesus came and lifted her out. In bondage, and Jesus freed her. Lost, and Jesus found her.
Does that sound familiar? That could be any of us.
Maybe you’re feeling the burden of guilt from past sins. That’s normal. After all, who doesn’t have some kind of a interesting backstory? But it’s not your past that matters to Jesus. You won’t ever hear Him call you by your sin. Instead, He makes you new and calls you by your new name: Forgiven. Redeemed. Beloved. When He calls us like that we can’t help but turn to Him, and then run to tell all our friends, “I have seen the Lord!”
Sister, He is calling you by your new name! Repeat that. Believe that.
Anna Coyne is a Minnesota native, wife, mother, and convert to the Catholic faith. When not chasing after her two young children, she is probably making pour-over coffee, knitting, gardening, playing the piano, or sipping on a glass of red wine. Find out more about her here.