GENERAL AUDIENCE: ‘On Mary Magdalene, Apostle of Hope’

‘Every one of us is a story of God’s love. God calls every one of us by our name: He knows us by name, He looks at us, He waits for us, He forgives us, He has patience with us’

General Audience

PHOTO.VA - OSSERVATORE ROMANO

This morning’s General Audience was held at 9:25 in St. Peter’s Square, where the Holy Father Francis met with groups of pilgrims and faithful from Italy and from all over the world.

In his address in Italian, the Pope reflected on the theme: “Mary Magdalene, Apostle of Hope” (Cf. John 20:15-18a).

After summarizing his catechesis in several languages, the Holy Father expressed special greetings to groups of faithful present.

The General Audience ended with the singing of he Pater Noster and the Apostolic Blessing.

* * *

The Holy Father’s Catechesis

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 her who, according to the Gospels, was the first to see Jesus Risen: Mary Magdalene. The Sabbath rest had just ended. On the day of the Passion there was no time to complete the funeral rites; therefore, on that dawn full of sadness, the women went to Jesus’ tomb with perfumed unguents. The first to arrive was she, Mary of Magdala, one of the disciples that had accompanied Jesus from Galilee, putting themselves at the service of the nascent Church. Reflected in her path to the sepulcher is the fidelity of so many women who are devoted for years to the paths of cemeteries, in memory of someone who is no longer. The most genuine bonds are not broken not even by death: one continues to love even if the beloved person has gone forever.

The Gospel (Cf. John 20:1-2.11-18) describes Magdalene, making it evident immediately that she was not a woman of easy enthusiasms. In fact, after the first visit to the sepulcher, she returned disappointed to the place where the disciples were hiding; she said that the stone was moved from the entrance to the sepulcher, and her first theory is the simplest that can be formulated: someone must have stolen Jesus’ body. Thus, the first announcement that Mary brings is not that of the Resurrection, but of a robbery that unknowns perpetrated, while the whole of Jerusalem was asleep.

Then the Gospels tell of a second trip of Magdalene to Jesus’ sepulcher. She was headstrong! She went, she returned . . . because she was not convinced! This time her step is slow, very heavy. Mary suffers doubly: first of all because of Jesus’ Death, and then because of the inexplicable disappearance of His body.

It is while she is kneeling close to the tomb, with her eyes filled with tears, that God surprises her in the most unexpected way. The evangelist John stresses how persistent her blindness was: she is not aware of the presence of two Angels who question her, and does not even get suspicious seeing the man behind her, that she thinks is the guardian of the garden. And instead she discovers the most overwhelming event of human history, when she is finally called by her name: “Mary!” (v. 6).

How lovely it is to think that the first apparition of the Risen One — according to the Gospels — happened in such a personal way! That there is Someone who knows us, who sees our suffering and disappointment, and who is moved for us, and calls us by name. It is a law that we find engraved in many pages of the Gospel. There are so many persons that seek God around Jesus, but the most prodigious reality is that, long before, it is first of all God who is concerned for our life, who wants to uplift it, and to do this He calls us by name, recognizing each one’s personal face. Every man is a story of love that God writes on this earth.  Every one of us is a story of God’s love. God calls every one of us by our name: He knows us by name, He looks at us, He waits for us, He forgives us, He has patience with us. Is this true or is it not true? Every one of us has this experience.

And Jesus calls her: “Mary!”: the revolution of her life, the revolution destined to transform the existence of every man and woman, begins with a name that echoes in the garden of the empty sepulcher. The Gospel describes for us Mary’s happiness: Jesus’ Resurrection is not a joy given in dribs and drabs but a cascade that assails the whole of life. Christian existence is not woven of soft happiness, but of waves that overwhelm everything. You also try to think at this moment, with the baggage of disappointments and defeats that each one bears in the heart, that there is a God close to us who calls us by name and says to us: “Rise, stop crying, because I have come to free you!” This is beautiful.

Jesus is not one who adapts Himself to the world, tolerating that in it death, sadness, hatred, the moral destruction of persons should endure … Our God is not inert, But our God – I permit myself the word – is a dreamer: He dreams of the transformation of the world, and He realized it in the mystery of the Resurrection.

Mary wanted to embrace her Lord, but He is now oriented to the celestial Father, while she is sent to bring the announcement to brothers. And so that woman, who before encountering Jesus was at the mercy of the Evil One (Cf. Luke 8:2), has now become apostle of the new and greatest hope. May her intercession help us also to live this experience: in the hour of weeping and in the hour of abandonment, to listen to the Risen Jesus who calls us by name and, with a heart full of joy, go to announce: “I have seen the Lord!” (v. 18). I have changed my life because I saw the Lord! Now I am different from before, I am another person. I have changed because I saw the Lord. This is our strength and this is our hope. Thank you.

[Original text: Italian]  [Translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

In Italian

Dear Italian-speaking pilgrims, welcome! I am happy to receive the Montfort Missionaries of the Company of Mary on the occasion of their General Chapter, and the Perpetual Adorers of the Most blessed Sacrament, and I exhort them to renew their adherence to their respective foundation charism, to transmit the love and mercy of God in today’s ecclesial context.

I greet the priests, teachers of the Major Seminaries and Higher Institutes affiliated to the Pontifical Urban University; the faithful of Andria and Paterno of Avezzano; the personnel of the State Police of the Province of Ancona; the Happy Grandparents Association and the Committee of Victims of Rigopiano.

May the visit to the Tombs of the Apostles in the Marian month increase in each one of you devotion to the Mother of God, to be missionary disciples of the paschal joy of the Resurrection.  

A special greeting goes to young people, the sick and newlyweds. Today we celebrate the liturgical memorial of Saint Pasquale Baylon, Patron of the Eucharistic Associations. May his love for the Eucharist indicate to you, dear young people, the importance of faith in the real presence of Jesus. May the Eucharistic bread sustain you, dear sick, to face the test with serenity and may it be nourishment for you, dear newlyweds, in the human and spiritual growth of your new family.

[Original text: Italian]  [Translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

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