Archbishop Gomez: Mary Magdalene is counter to culture of condemnation

Archbishop Jose Gomez CNA US Catholic News 6 28 11

The July 22 Memorial of St. Mary Magdalene is a time to recall the holy woman’s life and her “beautiful story” of God’s life-changing love and mercy for everyone, Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles said. He contrasted her life with an American culture that is “quick to condemn.”

“God is kind and merciful. There is no one who is beyond the pale of his redemption. There is no one whom God cannot redeem and use for his purposes,” the archbishop wrote in his July 22 column for the archdiocesan paper The Tidings.

“I worry sometimes that we might be forgetting that in society,” he added.

The archbishop cited people who seem “so angry and judgmental” on the Internet, the radio and television.

“Everywhere in our culture, people seem so quick to condemn. It is very hard to find words of mercy or understanding for someone who has done something wrong,” he said, noting that there are “many good people out there saying things they know they shouldn’t be saying.”

He recounted Mary Magdalene’s life and how she was possessed by seven demons until Jesus set her free.

She believed Jesus’ promises that “no matter what sins we have in our lives, God is ready to forgive.”

God turned her into “a great witness of his love.” Though the apostles and other followers of Jesus ran away when he was arrested, she did not run and stood by him during his trials and sufferings, and execution.

She helped take Jesus’ body from the cross and readied it for burial. She was the first witness to his resurrection from the dead.

Mary Magdalene, the Los Angeles archbishop observed, experienced in her own life the “healing power of Christ’s tender mercy.”

At the same time, he acknowledged that it is hard for people to believe that God can love everyone. “But he does! God cares for you very deeply. And he cares for the greatest sinner just as deeply,” he said.

“People make mistakes. They sin. Some people do evil that causes scandal and grave harm. We can condemn the offense and work for justice — without trying to destroy the person who committed the sin,” the archbishop added.

“We need to reject every temptation to shame or condemn people. Let us never be the cause of turning someone away from seeking God’s forgiveness and redemption.”

Christians’ job is to help sinners find Jesus Christ, who alone can set them free from their demons.

“Let us pray for one another this week,” the archbishop concluded, saying we should ask the Virgin Mary to “give us a faith like Mary Magdalene and hearts to forgive.”

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