Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Upper Room Inclusive Catholic Community Celebrates Feast of Mary of Magdala

Annabella Roig and Kim Panaro, ARCWP led the Upper Room celebration for the feast of Mary of Magdala. Annabella’s homily starter is printed below the readings.

Welcome and Theme
Today we call to mind the presence of Mary Magdalene. We know her as Jesus’ companion and witness to his ministry, death and resurrection. She is also known as the Apostle to the Apostles.  Through her life and ministry, she taught, inspired and led others to live in a life of gospel love. She did not have it easy since her brothers in the faith did not always accept that as a woman she had been given insight and understanding. In our church today, we struggle with the same lack of balance, lack of trust, lack of embracing of the gifts of women.

We believe that all those who have gone before us are always here within our circle because in the communion of saints, there is no barrier between the living and those who have passed. So, we welcome the awareness of Mary in our circle today,  we also bring to mind other women who have inspired us to live a life of conversion of heart and mind and action. Women who by their example, challenge us to take seriously Jesus’ invitation to love God and others at all times. As we seek to work toward a more just and peaceful world, we send peace to ourselves, to each other and to the whole world. We thank and honor and welcome these women into our circle today. Please name our loud the women you want to acknowledge with us today.  We welcome , thank and bless you all. Amen.

First Reading

From Christ in the Margins by Robert Lenz and Edwina Gateley

Wisdom is bright, and does not grow dim.
By those who love her she is readily seen,
And found by those who look for her.
Quick to anticipate those who desire her, she makes herself know to them.
Watch for her early and you will have no trouble;
You will find her sitting at your gates.
Even to think about her is understanding fully grown;
Be on the alert for her and anxiety will quickly leave you.
She herself walks about looking for those who are worthy of her
And graciously shows herself to them as they go,
in every thought of theirs coming to meet them. 

These are the inspired words of the Book of Wisdom 6:7-12 and the community affirms them by saying AMEN.

Second Reading - From Passion of Christ, Passion of the World, p110.

The cross is to be understood as God’s solidarity with men and women in the condition of human suffering – not to eternalize it, but to suppress it.  And the manner in which God seeks to suppress it is not by domination, but by love.  Christ preached and lived this new dimension. He was rejected by a “world” oriented toward the preservation of power. He succumbed to these forces.  But he never abandoned his project of love.
The cross is the symbol of human power- and the symbol of Jesus’ love and fidelity.  Love is stronger than death, and power collapses before it.  The loyalty of the cross, then, the love of the cross, has triumphed.  The name for this is resurrection: a life stronger than the life of power, biological life, the life of the ego.

These are the inspired words of Leonardo Boff and the community affirms them by saying AMEN.

Third Reading  - From The Gospel of Mary Magdalene translated from Jean Yves Leloup

Freed from this third climate, the soul continued its ascent,
And found itself in the fourth climate.
This has seven manifestations,
The first manifestation is Darkness;
The second, Craving;
The third, Ignorance;
The fourth, Lethal Jealousy;
The fifth, Enslavement to the Body;
The sixth, Intoxicated Wisdom;
The seventh, Guileful Wisdom.
These are the seven manifestations of Wrath.

These are the inspired words from the Gospel of Mary Magdalene and the community affirms them by saying AMEN.

Annabella’s homily reflection:
First, I am so glad to be here celebrating for the first time in my life, the Feast day of Mary Magdalene.   

I would like to share a few words about what I understood and discovered through my reading of Mary Magdalene and her presence as an apostle on this her Feast day on our calendar.  I started this study asking who is Mary Magdalene and what is she to me? 

and, after some weeks of work, I came to understand that she is about the inner work, that she points me to inner work facing my demons in my journey towards spiritual transformation in my desire for a more authentic Christian walk and relationship with Jesus. 

While reading her gospel in Jean Leloup’s translation in the Gospel of Mary Magdalene, I came across her words in the reading, page 16, verses 1-11, I was startled.  So, I went back to the canonical gospels to find a reference for her. I found one in Luke Chapter 8, where it says “

Jesus went with the 12, and with some women he had healed of evil spirits and sicknesses, and Mary of Magdala from whom he had cast out seven demons.    

And that’s it.  Nothing more.

So, I went back to the gospel of Mary Magdalene, and here I see these described.  She lists them.   Some of these are Darkness, lethal jealousy, craving, ignorance, to name a few. Maybe you recognize these?  I know I did. The gospel goes on to say “These are the manifestations of Wrath. “   

And I was startled.  These are not demons in the way I often read the gospel, demons and devils or something else otherworldly; these are “Demons” I deal within myself. These demons Jesus dealt with might be those we all deal with! And then, I felt connected to Mary Magdalene.  Her demons are my demons. 

And then this word Wrath?

What does it mean that these are manifestations of Wrath.   What did Wrath mean?

And I thought, does it mean what I feel when I am stuck in traffic?  Is it a version of what comes over me when I want something that I don’t really need, like a cute car I saw on the road, or another pair of shoes? Is a little craving a form of wrath?   And I wondered. Maybe it does.  And this is how wisdom shows up. 

I saw something on a tee shirt recently that reminds me of what it feels like to Let wisdom lead my walk.  The tee shirt said Adversity does not build character, it reveals it.   And it occurred to me THIS Is wisdom, this is the Walk. 
In the words of Leonardo Boff, in the second reading to understand the cross is to understand God’s solidarity with men and women in the condition of suffering, I see Mary Magdalene as one who understands the human condition.    As a disciple, Mary Magdalene was at the cross, with Jesus. She did not shy away from Death, she bore witness to it.  As one who understood life, she understood death as part of the human condition. And she stood witness to his sacrifice and what he stood for. 

Wisdom is what Mary Magdalene means to me.  

The words of Book of Wisdom show me that

“Even to think about her is understanding fully grown; Be on the alert for her and anxiety will quickly leave you. “

That is what Mary Magdalene means for me.    Letting go of wrath, Letting go of the need for control that I often seek to be happy. Mary Magdalene is the apostle who points us to an internal process for spiritual transformation. This is what Mary Magdalene means to me.

The Feast Day of Mary Magdalene on the calendar brings interesting possibility, maybe a more feminine possibility. Maybe it’s a space for the Church to be called to do inner work.

What emerges for you?  What message do you see or hear today?

Closing Prayer

May we go forward remembering the example, courage and witness of Mary Magdalene and all the women witnesses. May we all, both women and men, remember that we are called to do the inner work of conversion so that we may call our world to conversion more lovingly and effectively. May we go forward to live lives of radical love and community. May we be light for the world.  Amen

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