With Our Chins Up! (Part 3)
Should we need further convincing of the trust we must place in God, the Gospel provides us with a real case study in St. Mary Magdalene, a saint the Church honors as “penitent.”
Magdalene is almost always depicted between our Lady and St. John at the foot of Calvary, and if there was ever someone that should not have been there according to human calculation, it would have been her. If there was ever someone who was a likely candidate to fall victim to discouragement and despair, it was her.
But she didn’t.
We know her young life was filled with raucous living and she had earned for herself quite the infamous reputation. By the time our Lord emerges onto the scene, it seems she was getting tired of it all; she had a heart capable of great love but was looking for it in all the wrong places. But how to make things right?
Her position at Calvary is significant, as each person stands as one of three ways to gain access to the Cross and to Christ, who is our salvation.
Our Lady is humility, St. John is purity, St. Mary Magdalene is penitence; all are tied together by divine charity, which is Christ.
But penitence in the middle shows that we can actually regain both the humility and purity that had been lost by sin, and that is the secret the devil never wants us to know and believe. True humility enables us to realize how much we have been and are loved by God, and so elicits hope, especially when the chips are down, which is the strongest defense against the discouragement he attempts to sow.
Magdalene obtained a full pardon from Christ because she loved much (cf. Lk. 7:47); her hope in Him would come to outweigh the discouraging lies the devil had bound her up with for years that left her desolate and lost.
If then we find ourselves plagued by discouragement, it is time to stir up within what it is we profess and pray for the grace to reconnect with Christ as our Savior and our hope.
We are born for eternal life; we are given a heart capable of loving God and being loved by Him. True penitence admits where we have loved wrongly and yields hope, which is like a kite up in the clouds; although it cannot be seen, we can still feel the tug on the string.
Like Magdalene, like the publican, once our hope is rooted firmly in God, the discouragement we encounter in our pursuit can never take root and we avoid its disastrous effects, remaining conscious always of God’s pull and tug, and that we never stand alone unless we do not want to look. May all our prayers imitate in spirit the prayer of this blessed publican, and we will be assured the eternal glory God promises to those who persevere.
And we will not be fooled into saving up to purchase tools sold in hell’s garage sale.
January 22, 2021