Most Reverend Jerome E. Listecki
Archbishop of Milwaukee
Yesterday was the feast of St. Mary Magdalene. I have often said to young women who take the name of St. Mary Magdalene for their confirmation, “Do you know she really loved Jesus?”
I have always appreciated St. Mary Magdalene. She was one courageous woman who truly loved the Lord. Meeting the Great Teacher, I am sure that she envisioned the possibility of creating a home with Jesus. She was devoted to Him as a person who is in love, and it is obvious that she had great taste in men.
I think that for some, it makes for uncomfortable feelings to think of Jesus as desirable. They may want to put Him in the category of a George Clooney, Brad Pitt or Denzel Washington. But with Jesus, we are talking about the total package in one person (love of God, virtue and care for others). However, Jesus was true God and true man, so He would have been attractive, especially for those who had an innate sense of the spiritual life. But, the love that was both shared and declared was directed to the service of the Father’s mission.
The love between Jesus and Mary Magdalene could only be fulfilled in following the Father’s mission. Submission of the will to follow what God wants rather than what we would desire is difficult. As children, we often view sisters and priests as asexual, however, these are individuals who love intensely and channel their love through a commitment to Christ and His Church.
I admire the young men and women who discern priesthood and religious life. In today’s hypersexual society, to channel our love to serve God is truly remarkable. It’s true that in married life, the faithfulness to the commitment made at the altar is fulfilled when the couple enters into a covenantal relationship with God. The couple not only submits themselves to each other, but they also offer themselves as instruments of God’s will. Priests, religious and deacons are loving people who direct their love in service of Christ and His Church.
Among the saints, there have been others who had a special loving relationship: St. Francis of Assisi and St. Clare, St. Francis de Sales and St. Jane de Chantel, etc. They ask that all-important question, “Although we love each other, God, what do you want from us?” His answer is to channel that intensity of love in our service to one another, in the name of Jesus and the good of His Church.
When Jesus addressed Mary Magdalene after the Resurrection, I believe that she was able to recognize Him because she viewed Him through the eyes of faith and love. Through faith and love, we continue to recognize the resurrected Lord and renew our pledge to love Him and to LOVE ONE ANOTHER.
Note: This blog originally appeared as the July 23, 2019 "Love One Another" email sent to Catholics throughout the Archdiocese of Milwaukee by Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki. If you are interested in signing up for these email messages, please click here.