- Is she the woman criticized in thoughts of Simon?
- Is she Mary the sister of Martha and Lazarus?
- Is she the Mary criticized by Judas?
- Is she Mary of Magdala from whom Jesus cast seven demons?
- Is she all of us, you know, as “The Penitent”
My homilies are always me just thinking out loud. That’s a sin of complacency and pride. I try to console myself that in preaching I’m trying to impart, not so much correct academics (that would be appropriate and I desire to do that), but more the greatness of the forgiveness of sin, of my sin and yours, and the humble thanksgiving, in joy, which goes along with that, whatever the Gospel happens to be, and having that lead us into the Most Holy Sacrifice.
I rejoice that, because of the mandate from Jesus to us priests to preach, we who are necessarily inept in so many ways, it is the Holy Spirit who is going to get across the message He wants for this soul and that. Unless the priest seriously gets in the way, this is also true of any brief word of encouragement that the priest has for a penitent in the confessional. That shouldn’t make the priest complacent, but it is a consolation.
You know what’s in someone’s heart and soul when they think out loud. There’s a specific grace that “accompanies” one who is mandated to preach, a grace to purify heart and soul and mind and lips, that same grace available to Isaiah when he was called by God Most High to preach. Don’t get me wrong. That grace also acts as an incrimination if it is not taken up.
I fail in that I don’t much study what I should, and if I ever did study, that’s likely decades ago and my memory is not what it once was. Forgive me. I don’t want to be complacent. My academics may be wrong on this point or that – and I know plenty of priests who get highly emotional about this topic of the identity of Mary of Magdala and who don’t hesitate to smack me down on one side or the other. Be that as it is, my response is said with utter simplicity, pointing to the one thing necessary:
We are all called to be “The Penitent.” We will all of us together look upon Him who we have all pierced through.