In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, one God. Amen. My beloved, we remember St Mary Magdalene, Myrrhbearer, and Equal-to-the-Apostles, for her great help in building up the Church, and a symbol of being called by the Lord from darkness into light.

St Mary Magdalene is not to be confused with Mary of Bethany, or Blessed Mary the Theotokos. Another very important Myrrhbearer is our Blessed Mary the Theotokos. Blessed Theotokos, and St Mary Magdalene, pray for us.

From Luke 23, St Mary Magdalene was faithful to Christ to the end, ever since our Christ cast out 7 demons from her. At our Christ’s crucifixion and burial, she and others ministered to our Lord, with the preparation of Myrrh and other fragrant spices to anoint our Lord’s body, as faithful observance of the Jewish burial customs. We in the Church note that St Mary Magdalene proclaimed the resurrection of Christ to the Apostles, as in Luke 24, so that made her an Apostle to the Apostles, an Equal to the Apostles. It was said by our Holy Fathers and other Church writers in the early history, that St Mary Magdalene assisted the Apostles St Paul, and St John the Theologian in his labors, until her repose. She was also the first to inspire us with joyful offering, of red Pascha Eggs.

When we read 1 Kingdoms 2: 35, we see that our Lord will send His Son to us, and His Son will build the Church, and this Church will last forever, and that nothing can prevail against this rock. And we see too, that our Lord’s love for us is not bound by discrimination, whatever spiritual state we are in.

Famous American botanist, Luther Burbank, discovered that every weed has the potential to be a flower, much as great saints and sinners are made of the same substance. That is why, it is gratifying for us to know that our Lord chose very ordinary people to follow Him, to preach His Word to the world.

From Luke 8: 1 to 3, when St Mary Magdalene had the first encounter with our Christ, Christ cast out 7 demons from her. The number 7 symbolizes totality, which can symbolize that St Mary Magdalene came from a state of complete darkness. And yet when Christ cast out her demons, she become steadfast in her love and faith for Christ and His work, and up to today, we venerate her as a saint, an Equal to the Apostles. I assure you, my beloved, the love, grace, and mercy of God can free us from any evil and sin, if we choose to embrace Him completely, and transfigure us. Saints and sinners are made of the same substance.

Let us remember Ephesians 2: 13 to 18, when St Paul taught us that man’s brokenness is the exact opposite of the 2 Great Commandments of our Lord, in Matthew 22: 37 to 4o. First, we are broken away from God since our great fall. Second, we are broken away, or separated from each other. All too often, we read of wars, struggles, and great crimes around the world, and they are manifestations of both our separation from other fellow men, and from God.

As we reflect on LXX Psalm 32, we find great solace in one nature of our God, His faithfulness. We know our God being just, right, merciful, unwavering, and so on. We know however, that our God transcended that by a gift of faithful love, that of His Son, our Christ and Lord. We see that in Ephesians 2, where Christ came, surrendered Himself fully to the crucifixion, so that He could reconcile all of us back to God, that the breath of God, the Holy Spirit, can come and abide in us. Through His loving Word, that all of us separated from each other, can manifest our love for one another.

Life is never a simple thing, nor is life always clear. Even as everything around us may be unclear, we can reflect on Psalm 32: verse 4, that ALL His works are done in faithfulness. We may never fully understand why some things happen to us, but we take solace that ALL our God’s works, are done in faithfulness and love. Often, as we humbly reflect in hindsight, His truth and love are unraveled and we see that He was always just beside us, holding our frail arms.

The pilgrim in the Russian Orthodox classic, “Way of a Pilgrim”, which was a poor pilgrim’s search for the unceasing prayer mentioned by St Paul, centered on one theme – leaning on God for ALL things. When the unknown pilgrim breathed or walked, his heart was always praying, always centering on God.

Whenever we feel empty, left behind, angry, frustrated, or tempted, why not lean on God, and listen to His heartbeat, through the Prayer of the Heart, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner”.

Let us close with a thanksgiving prayer:

It is truly meet to call thee blest, the Theotokos, ever blessed and most pure, and the Mother of our God. More honorable than the Cherubim, and more glorious than the Seraphim, without corruption thou gavest birth to God the Word: True Theotokos, we magnify thee.

O virgin Theotokos, rejoice; O Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, for thou hast borne the Savior of our souls, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Blessings
Fr Raphael+

Readings today:
1 Kingdoms 2:35 (1 Samuel)
Psalm 32 (LXX)
St Luke 8:1-3
Ephesians 2:13-18