While strolling through Instagram recently, I ran across a phrase that struck me…
“Wanna manifest something in the world? Put it on the mind of a woman that loves you.”
These powerful words didn't just strike me but the members of the Instagram community who commented on the feed, saying, ‘preach, say it again, you got that right…’
It’s not just something the resonated with us, it’s also what Jesus did.
IN FACT, in one particular woman…we see this echoed truth, in the first person to ever preach the good news … we see a woman whose love stood the test of time.
Mary Magdalene, the feast we celebrate today.
We see it from the moment she is introduced in Chapter 8 of Luke’s gospel. She was the woman from whom seven demons had gone out. Demons that controlled her life, clouded her mind, darkened her days, and haunted her nights. Demons that invaded her soul and imprisoned her heart… A woman who knew doubt, fear, and hopelessness in faith…
A woman who struggled to bring light in, until Jesus called the demons out.
An act of love that changed the way she lived.
A love that inspired her life. Mary Magdalene believed in Jesus so much that she provided for him on the journey. We learn in Luke that she funded his journey. She gave her resources and life to the mission… This living miracle of God gave witness with all she had, knowing all he had done for her and in faith knowing what he could do for others. Others who also needed to be reintroduced to the light of God.
Mary did not only stick by his side as he preached to the crowds, healed the sick… But she loved him so much that she did not leave his side…even in HIS darkest moment…she was a woman who…
● Stood at the foot of the cross
● A woman who was there when he breathed his last breath
● A woman who was there when they laid him in the tomb
● She went back with spices to anoint the body for proper burial
● …..And THE one left crying when everyone was gone
This woman who had once been a miracle was the one Jesus chose to be the first to proclaim the Gospel!
Because when….“Wanna manifest something in the world? put it on the mind of a woman that loves you.”
And she loved Jesus! And he loved her.
In this gospel we see a love so strong, that she remains at the point of heartbreak. She waits and weeps by the tomb of the one she loved.
In this difficult moment, when other disciples scattered, she remained.
We see as he calls out her name…. and she responds to him saying “Rabboni” –
not just Rabbi, teacher, but more specifically, “Rab-BO-ni” or “My Teacher.”
Not simply a title of respect but one of care.
Jesus was not just a teacher in her life, but “hers”... one she loved.
The teacher who had opened her eyes to the scripture in new ways,
the teacher who had invited her to join them on the journey,
the teacher who taught her to believe in the unbelievable,
the teacher who taught her faith in time of doubt,
the teacher who showed her love when others pushed me aside,
the teacher who taught her she was not only worthy of love but worthy of God.
These lessons that transformed her life and
even after death, they were lessons that would continue to transform others.
In this passage, we see the beauty of Mary, called Magdalene! The name magdalene came from a Hebrew word meaning fortress, temple, strong hold… something that cannot be torn down….Something unbending, unbreakable, steady and strong.
Mary called Magdalene was the pillar that stayed grounded by the tomb even when others went away. A pillar that could not be shaken. That's what pillars do.
In fact, she is a pillar that still stands.
I recently had the opportunity to travel to the holy land with a group of students. In which, they visited Magdala, hometown of Mary Magdalene. It features a church dedicated to Mary with an atrium of eight pillars, six of which represent women in the Bible who followed Jesus, from Mary Magdalene, Susana, and Joanna, who funded his journey,
to Mary and Martha, sisters of Lazarus, and dear friends of Jesus,
the mother of James and John,
and Simon Peter’s mother-in-law,
Mary, wife of Cleopas.
Six of the pillars were named and known.
But there were two pillars with no specific name…
One was dedicated to the many other women who followed and supported Jesus
A pillar that stood in remembrance of the many women who followed and supported Christ.
Pillars just like her.
From the Samaritan woman who sat by the well in conversation with Jesus
to the Canaanite woman who was called by Jesus “a woman of great faith”
to the woman who rustled through the crowd just to touch the hem of his garment and be healed
to Veronica who wiped his face as he carried the cross to his death
to the women who wept in empathy as he struggled under the cross’s weigh
to the women who continued on after his death…like Phoebe, the deaconess of Paul who carried his letter to the Romans.
And, of course, his Mother Mary’s courageous ‘yes’ that began the journey.
Each of them is a reminder of women who were part of the mission of Jesus.
The final pillar, number 8, is an unmarked pillar - for the women of all time who love God and live by faith, a pillar of disciples yet to come... The pillars of community that stand around us today.
A reminder of the pillars whose names should never be forgotten, the feminine pillars of our church – Strongholds of faith and love,
Fortresses of God’s truth,
Women that hold weights we will never know, and stand up and support us in ways we cannot repay.
That we may acknowledge the way they hold up the Church and our lives! The way they give strength to the body and aid us in finding strength in one another…Even when the weight of the world seems too much to carry and the roof may be caving in. They stand strong. The Magdalenes of today.
Because Jesus knew… if “Wanna manifest something in the world? put it on the mind of a woman that loves you.”
Mary is our example of a woman who knew Christ in her life and loved him with all her heart.
Mary called Magdalene a stronghold of the past who knew the good…
● The miracles he’d done
● The stories he’d told
● The lessons he’d taught
● And the lives he’d forever change
She also knew the bad….
● The beatings he endured
● The accusations he’d accrued
● The struggle he’d undergone…and the last breath he breathed.
So, when Jesus first appeared after his resurrection, he could have chosen anyone. But he first placed his mission in the mouth of a woman that loved him.
A woman who couldn’t wait to tell the world and manifest this good news for everyone to hear.
Jesus spoke to this underrecognized pillar of the community…the message of hope. She had seen the Risen Lord and he sent her forth to spread the news. From the tomb until she reached the first apostles, Mary WAS the church…she was the only one who knew the Gospel truth and she sprung forth with the message. The ‘apostle to the apostles.’
She was sent to make known that the one she loved…. LIVED.
She wasn’t just a woman who hoped and prayed, who waited and wept, she was a woman who LOVED. And a God who is LOVE knows that a woman who loves and believes … is the way to change the world.
So, let Magdalene be a reminder of what we can endure, what we can bring, and what awaits those powered by love.
Let us not forget the love that transforms and the faith that sets the future in motion.
Pillars who work, and toil, and pray and dream, that hope in future and heal in the present. Those who LOVE GOD and manifest a brighter future for our Church.
Who are those pillars of your community? If you don’t know them, become them.
Because Jesus is waiting, as others weep, to reveal the glory yet to come.
Jesus has good news to share and he's ready to USE YOU to…tell it to the world.
Kayla August is a doctoral student at the School of Theology and Ministry at Boston College, where she is pursuing a Ph.D. in Theology and Education with a focus on preaching. She desires to use preaching to impact religious education by inspiring Catholics to deepen their encounters with scripture, tradition, and how God plays an active role in our daily lives. As a lay woman in the Church, Kayla makes a point to preach whenever and wherever she can. She is not only a proud contributor to the voices found on Catholicwomenpreach.org, but she has also preached in a variety of places including McGrath’s Institute for Church Life Saturday with the Saints at Notre Dame, St. Francis of Assisi Parish in New York's 7 Last Words of Christ prayer service on Good Friday, and a variety of churches, youth gatherings, and universities across the U.S.
Her hope as a laywoman is to use preaching to revolutionize the Catholic Church by bringing preaching into nontraditional arenas (social media, podcasts, television, etc.) as a way to reawaken faith and to re-engage an increasingly under-catechized church. Her interest in formation is rooted in her experiences of living and working in young adult faith formation as a University Ministry Intern at Loyola University of New Orleans as well as her professional work as the Assistant Director of Evangelization in the University of Notre Dame’s Campus Ministry department and as the Rector of Lyons Hall. She hopes that through preaching, she can help to enliven the youth and young adult Catholic communities and help to inspire marginalized voices—like her own—in the Catholic faith to play an active role in the Church. She plans to use her education to lift-up and empower these voices that are often overlooked in our church and in our world. She dreams of a Church truly alive with Christ, and she believes her vocation is working toward making that Church a daily reality!