The moment of the conversion of Saint Augustine

As a child I thought that all saints were born saints! I thought that it could not be any way else!   Of course this implied that they did not sin; they were perfect; virtue was always there.  I even thought that they probably did not have to go to the bathroom, much less wash their hands.   The saints were the epitome and essence of perfection!

Later I learned to my joy that saints were not born saints! Quite the contrary saints were actually sinners.  They were born with Original Sin. They had to battle with these innate proclivities and at times fiercely! Still more the saints would actually fall into sin and sometimes struggle to get out of it—as in the long battle of Saint Augustine!  This thought brought me great hope that I can be a saint and should strive for it.  This one-liner says it all:  “The Church is not a museum of saints, but a hospital of sinners.”

Magdalene forgiven by Jesus
SAINT MARY MAGDALENE.   One of the best examples of a great sinner who became a great saint is SAINT MARY MAGDALENE.  Every year we celebrate her Liturgical Feast day on July 22.  

Before her conversion Mary of Magdala lived a very sinful lifestyle.  She was seeking for love in the wrong place.   She gave her body freely to false lovers time and time again.  Until she finally realized that this was a lie.

Not only did Mary Magdalene give in to the flesh but she also had another very serious problem: she was possessed by the devil, and not just one devil but actually seven devils lived within her. POSSESSION!  Mary Magdalene had demonic possession!  It was Jesus who exorcised her of these seven devils!

Jesus casts out the devils
JESUS TRANSFORMS.   Drawing close to Jesus with humility, a spirit of repentance and good will results in TRANSFORMATION.   The Biblical word is “Metanoia”—which means conversion or change of heart! Jesus showed her the difference between false love – the idolatry of the sin of lust—and true love which is Incarnate in the Person of Jesus the Lord. Once Mary Magdalene became truly convinced in mind and heart that Jesus was the true response, the true lover, she abandoned her sinful lifestyle, burnt the bridges of the past, turned over a new leaf and   gave herself to a totally fresh start!  Our God is a God of second chances!   No longer would she sell herself cheap and allow herself to be treated like  an object to be used but she would give her love totally to the One who is worthy of love—Jesus the Lord!


Jesus forgives always the repentant sinner
Jesus tells us that we can know a tree by the fruit it produces.  A rotten apple is a sign of a bad tree. Likewise, we can be aware of the inner heart of the person by the exterior fruits that become manifest.  Mary Magdalene’s conversion was authentic because of the exterior signs of her conduct.

First, FOLLOWER.   With a group of pious women Mary Magdalene followed Jesus during the course of His Public ministry. No longer would she follow the false illusions of the world!

The Virgin Mary and Magdalene
Second, GIVING.  Her following was not a passive, curious, unfruitful dragging of one’s feet. Rather, Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Susanna would provide Jesus as well as His Apostles with material means so that they could dedicate themselves fully and totally to the preaching of the Kingdom of God, casting out of the evil spirits, healing diseases and saving souls for the Father.

Third, THE PASSION OF CHRIST.   The movie, the Passion of the Christ, by Mel Gibson presents the Blessed Virgin Mary accompanying Jesus during the course of His Sorrowful Passion.  Walking side by side with the Blessed Virgin Mary                   is the person of Mary Magdalene. Both Marys witnessed the brutal scourging of Jesus at the pillar. After the profuse Blood of Jesus poured to the ground, both fell to hands and knees to wipe up the pools of the Precious Blood of Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

Mary Magdalene at the foot of the cross
CALVARY.  On the hill of Calvary both the Blessed Virgin Mary and Magdalene climbed the hill with the Lord, by their mere presence, encouraging Jesus in the most sorrowful and painful moments of His life.

CRUCIFIXION.  Both were there!  They both stood at the foot of the cross those long hours witnessing the last hours and the dripping Blood of Jesus.  This took great courage on the part of both of them. COMPASSION is a virtue that means that one is willing to suffer with and actually share in the suffering of one’s loved ones. One who suffers for another alleviates the suffering of the one who suffers!

Magdalene embraces the cross of Jesus
DEATH.  Both the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint Mary Magdalene witnessed the last moments and death of Jesus on the cross and heard the last words that the Savior uttered:  “Father into your hands I commend my spirit. It is finished.”

Fourth, THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS.  According to Catholic tradition Jesus first appeared to the Blessed Virgin Mary—even though this is not explicitly stated in the Gospels. However, the first person that Jesus appears to in the Gospels is Saint Mary Magdalene, early that Sunday morning that we call Easter Sunday. Like many of us, Mary did not recognize Jesus. She actually thought that He might be the gardener. Upon calling her name “Mary” her eyes were opened and she finally recognized Jesus the Lord.

Jesus is risen alleluia!
Fifth, AN APOSTLE TO THE APOSTLES!  Mary Magdalene, overcome with joy and emotion, scurries off to tell the good news to the Apostles that Jesus was no longer dead but that he had truly risen from the dead. Therefore, she shares her own experience of the Risen Lord.  The love of Jesus cannot be hidden under a lampstand but is meant to be communicated to the whole world!   The last words of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew are: “Go out to all the world and baptize all in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit and teach them all that I taught you. And behold I am with you always even until the end of the world.”  Mary Magdalene, overflowing in joy, could not keep this joy to herself!

Saint Faustina and mercy
UNIVERSAL MESSAGE.  The life of Saint Mary Magdalene teaches us many important lessons:

1.    SINNERS AND MERCY!  Like the Magdalene we are all sinners but God’s mercy and forgiveness is infinite.  As soon as we humbly beg for forgiveness Jesus forgives us in a heartbeat!

2.    SEVEN DEVILS.  Jesus cast seven devils from Mary Magdalene.  We all have to battle against the seven devils that are called the Capital sins: Gluttony, Lust, Greed, Sloth, Anger, Envy, and Pride. “Lord, free us from these devils!”
The Spiritual life is a battle
3.    CONVERSION.  An authentic conversion will only come about through contact with Jesus.  Jesus can transform the worst sinners into the greatest saints if we allow Him to do His work.  Why not ask Jesus today to make you into a saint?

4.    LOVE.  We are all searching for love.  IDOLATRY! Is falling in love with the false god. Only Jesus can give us a true, authentic love.

5.     ACTIONS SPEAK.   Mary Magdalene proved that her conversion was true by her lifestyle. She followed Jesus, gave to Jesus both time and treasures and her whole life.
The faithful three: Mary the Mother of God, John and Magdalene
6.    FAITHFUL IN GOOD TIMES AND BAD.  Magdalene followed Jesus in His bitter Passion but also in the glory of His resurrection. We must not be “Fair weather friends”—that means, to be with the Lord only in the sunny days and the party, but to be with Him in the thick of it and in His most bleak, dark, painful moments.

Mary is Queen of all the saints
7.    HEAVEN.  Now and for all eternity Saint Mary Magdalene is with Jesus, adoring Him, loving Him and praying for us so that one day we will be with Him for all eternity.  Saint Mary Magdalene pray for us!