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Mary Magdalen, Apostle of Hope

Catechesis by Pope Francis on Christian Hope
General Audience, Wednesday 17 May 2017 - in Arabic, Croatian, English, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese & Spanish

"Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
In these weeks our reflection is moving, so to speak, in the orbit of the paschal mystery. Today we meet the one who, according to the Gospels, was the first to see Jesus resurrected: Mary Magdalene. The Sabbath rest had just ended. On the day of the Passion, there had not been enough time to complete the funeral rites; for this reason, in/at that dawn full of sadness, the women went to Jesus’ tomb with perfumed/aromatic oils. The first to arrive was her: Mary Magdalen, one of the disciples who had accompanied Jesus since/from Galilee, putting herself at the service of the nascent Church. Her walk to the sepulchre mirrors the fidelity of many women who spend years in the small alleyways of cemeteries remembering someone who is no longer there. The most authentic bonds are not broken even in death: there are those who continue loving even if their loved one is gone forever.

The Gospel describes Magdalene by immediately highlighting that she was not a woman easily given to enthusiasm (cf. Jn 20:1-2, 11-18). In fact, after her visit to the sepulchre, she returns disappointed to the Apostles’ hiding place. She tells them that the stone has been removed from the entrance to the sepulchre, and her first hypothesis is the simplest that one could formulate: someone must have stolen Jesus’ body. Thus, the first announcement that Mary makes is not the one of the Resurrection, but of a theft perpetrated by persons unknown while all Jerusalem slept.

The Gospels then tell of Magdalene’s second visit to Jesus’ sepulchre. She was stubborn! She went, she returned ... because she was not convinced! This time her step is slow and very heavy. Mary suffers twice as much: first for the death of Jesus, and then for the inexplicable disappearance of his body.

It is as she is stooping near the tomb, her eyes filled with tears, that God surprises her in the most unexpected way. John the Evangelist stresses how persistent her blindness is. She does not notice the presence of the two angels who question her, and she does not become suspicious even when she sees the man behind her, whom she believes is the custodian of the garden. Instead, she discovers the most overwhelming event in the history of mankind when she is finally called by her name: “Mary!” (v. 16).

How nice it is to think that the first apparition of the Risen One — according to the Gospels — took place in such a personal way! To think that there is someone who knows us, who sees our suffering and disappointment, who is moved with us and calls us by name. It is a law which we find engraved on many pages of the Gospel. There are many people around Jesus who search for God, but the most prodigious reality is that, long before that, in the first place there is God, who is concerned about our life, who wants to raise it, and to do this, he calls us by name, recognizing the individual face of each person. Each person is a love story that God writes on this earth. Each one of us is God’s love story. He calls each of us by our name: he knows us by name; he looks at us; he waits for us; he forgives us; he is patient with us. Is this true or not true? Each of us experiences this.

And Jesus calls her: “Mary!”: the revolution of her life, the revolution destined to transform the life of every man and every woman begins with a name which echoes in the garden of the empty sepulchre. The Gospels describe Mary’s happiness. Jesus’ Resurrection is not a joy which is measured with a dropper, but a waterfall that cascades over life. Christian life is not woven of soft joys, but of waves which engulf everything. You too, try to imagine, right now, with the baggage of disappointments and failures that each of us carries in our heart, that there is a God close to us who calls us by name and says to us: ‘Rise, stop weeping, for I have come to free you!”. This is beautiful.

Jesus is not one who adapts to the world, tolerating in it the persistence of death, sadness, hatred, the moral destruction of people.... Our God is not inert, but our God — allow me to say — is a dreamer: he dreams of the transformation of the world, and accomplished it in the mystery of the Resurrection.

Mary would like to embrace her Lord, but he is already oriented towards the heavenly Father, whereas she is sent to carry the news to the brethren. And so that woman, who, before encountering Jesus, had been at the mercy of evil (cf. Lk 8:2) now becomes the Apostle of the new and greatest hope. May her intercession also help us live this experience: in times of woe and in times of abandonment, to listen to the Risen Jesus who calls us by name and, with a heart full of joy, to go forth and proclaim: “I have seen the Lord!” (v. 18). I have changed my life because I have seen the Lord! I am now different than before. I am another person. I have changed because I have seen the Lord. This is our strength and this is our hope. Thank you."

Saluti:

"Je salue cordialement les pèlerins de langue française, en particulier le Collège de Défense de l’OTAN, le groupe de l’Université Catholique de Louvain, le Pèlerinage du diocèse de Gand ainsi que les pèlerins venus de France, de Suisse et de Côte d’Ivoire.
Frères et sœurs, Marie Madeleine aurait voulu étreindre le Seigneur. Mais lui l’envoie porter la bonne nouvelle aux Apôtres. Nous aussi, à l’heure des pleurs et de l’abandon, puissions-nous entendre Jésus nous appeler par notre nom, et nous envoyer porter la bonne nouvelle à nos frères.

I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, particularly the groups from England, Ireland, Swaziland, Hong Kong, Indonesia, India, the Philippines, Vietnam, Canada and the United States of America. In the joy of the Risen Christ, I invoke upon you and your families the loving mercy of God our Father. May the Lord bless you all!

Von Herzen grüße ich die Brüder und Schwestern aus den Ländern deutscher Sprache. Gott lässt uns in den Mühen und Nöten des Lebens nicht allein. Der auferstandene Herr ruft uns wie Magdalena beim Namen und will, dass auch wir in unserer Lebenswelt zu Boten der österlichen Freude und Aposteln seiner Hoffnung werden. Dazu stärke euch der Heilige Geist mit seiner Gnade.

Saludo cordialmente a los peregrinos de lengua española, en particular a los grupos provenientes de España y Latinoamérica. Los animo a perseverar en la oración y en la escucha de la Palabra de Dios, para que en los momentos de dolor y abandono, sientan cómo Jesús resucitado los llama por su nombre, y salgan con el corazón lleno de alegría a anunciar a todos la Buena Notica de la Resurrección. Que Dios los bendiga.

De coração saúdo todos os peregrinos de língua portuguesa, particularmente os brasileiros vindos da Bahia, de Fortaleza e Brasília. Queridos amigos, o Senhor sempre está ao nosso lado, mesmo nos momentos mais escuros da nossa vida. Deixemo-nos iluminar pela presença do Senhor Ressuscitado e nos tornemos suas testemunhas no mundo. Que Deus vos abençoe.

أرحب بالحاضرين الناطقين باللغة العربية، وخاصة بالقادمين من لبنان ومن الأردن ومن الشرق الأوسط. لقد ‏حملت مريم المجدلية رجاء القيامة للتلاميذ، ليحملوا هذا الخبر السار بدورهم للعالم باسره. إن المجدلية تعلمنا ‏أننا يجب أن نثابر في سعينا للقاء القائم من بين الأموات؛ وألا نسمح لمرارة الموت والحداد بأن تطفئ فينا توقنا ‏للقاء يسوع؛ وأن ندع لقائه يبدل حزننا إلى فرح، ويحوّلنا لشهود له. إن لقاء القائم من بين الأموات ‏يقيمنا، كي نقيم الآخرين من قبور الشك الموحشة. ليبارككم الرب ‏جميعا ‏ويحرسكم من ‏الشرير!‏‏

Z radością witam polskich pielgrzymów, a w szczególności weteranów 2. Korpusu Polskiego, którzy przyjechali do Włoch w rocznicę walk o Monte Cassino. Pozdrawiam Was wszystkich obecnych tu kombatantów, którzy walczyliście w II wojnie światowej o wolność waszego kraju i innych narodów. Niech Wasz trud i poświęcenie oraz ofiara życia Waszych kolegów wydają owoc pokoju w Europie i na całym świecie. Wam wszystkim tu obecnym i Waszym rodzinom z serca błogosławię. Niech będzie pochwalony Jezus Chrystus!

* * *

I welcome the Italian-speaking pilgrims! I am happy to welcome the Monfort Missionaries of the Society of Mary on the occasion of their General Chapter, and the Perpetual Adorers of the Blessed Sacrament, and I urge them to renew their adherence to their respective founding charisms in order to transmit the love and mercy of God in today’s ecclesial context.

Saluto i sacerdoti insegnanti di Seminari Maggiori e Istituti Superiori affiliati alla Pontificia Università Urbaniana; i fedeli di Andria e Paterno di Avezzano; il personale della Polizia di Stato della provincia di Ancona; l’Associazione Nonni Felici e il Comitato Vittime di Rigopiano.

May the visit to the Tombs of the Apostles during the Marian month make devotion to the Mother of God grow in each of you, in order to be missionary-disciples of the paschal joy of the Resurrection.

I address a special greeting to young people, to the sick and to newlyweds. Today, we celebrate the liturgical memorial of Saint Paschal Baylon, Patron of Eucharistic Associations. May his love for the Eucharist show you, dear young people, the importance of faith in the real presence of Jesus. May the bread of the Eucharist support you, dear sick people, in facing your trials with serenity, and may it be nourishment for you, dear newlyweds, in the human and spiritual growth of your new family."