The Ninth Sunday After Trinity

The collect for today, the Ninth Sunday after Trinity, from The Book of Common Prayer (Canadian, 1962):

GRANT to us, Lord, we beseech thee, the spirit to think and do always such things as be rightful; that we, who cannot do any thing that is good without thee, may by thee be enabled to live according to thy will; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Epistle: 1 Corinthians 10:1-13
The Gospel: St. Luke 16:1-9

Marinus van Reymerswaele, Parable of the Unfaithful StewardArtwork: Marinus van Reymerswaele, Parable of the Unfaithful Steward, 1540. Oil on oak, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna.

St. Anne, Mother of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The collect for today, the Feast of Saint Anne, Mother of the Blessed Virgin Mary (source):

Lucas Cranach the Elder, The Virgin and Child with Saint AnneO GOD, who didst vouchsafe to bestow grace upon blessed Anne, that she might become the mother of the parent of thy Only-begotten Son: Mercifully grant that we who celebrate her festival may be partakers with her of thy heavenly grace; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Lesson: 1 Samuel 2:1-8
The Gospel: St. Luke 1:26-33

Artwork: Lucas Cranach the Elder, The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne, 1516. Oil on wood, Alte Pinakothek, Munich.

St. James the Apostle

The collect for today, the Feast of St. James the Apostle, from The Book of Common Prayer (Canadian, 1962):

Luca della Robbia, St. James the GreatGRANT, O merciful God, that as thine holy Apostle Saint James, leaving his father and all that he had, without delay was obedient unto the calling of thy Son Jesus Christ, and followed him; so we, forsaking all worldly and carnal affections, may be evermore ready to follow thy holy commandments; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Lesson: Acts 11:27-12:3a
The Gospel: St. Mark 10:32-40

Artwork: Luca della Robbia, St. James the Great, 1440s. Glazed terracotta, Pazzi Chapel, Santa Croce, Florence.

Sermon for the Feast of St. Mary Magdalene & the Eighth Sunday after Trinity

Woman, why weepest thou? Whom seekest thou?

A confusion or a profusion of Mary Magdalenes? Or just Mary Magdalene’s profuse confusion? She “supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou hast borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.”It is surely one of the great moments of mistaken identity! It leads to one of the greatest moments of witness to the Resurrection in the encounter and exchange between Mary Magdalene and the Risen Christ recalled in this morning’s Gospel. Yet her confusion, like Thomas’ doubting in the same chapter, all contribute to our faith and understanding.

Today, in the Providence of God, The Feast of St. Mary Magdalene coincides with The Eighth Sunday after Trinity. She is the great witness of the Resurrection, apostola apostolorum, an “Apostle to the Apostles,” as some have styled her, the first witness to the Resurrection, as Mark in his Gospel explicitly states, and thus, by extension, more theologically speaking, to the Gospel of Christ itself. The Gospels, after all, can only have been written in the light of the Resurrection. That is a key point with respect to our understanding. All four Gospels name Mary Magdalene as a figure at the death and resurrection of Christ, a witness to the Crucifixion and the Resurrection.

And yet, there is, perhaps, no greater perplexity and confusion than with the figure of Mary Magdalene. It begins, I surmise, with a statement made by Mark and Luke about Mary Magdalene as the one “from whom [Christ] had cast seven demons,” as Mark puts it, or, as Luke simply says, “Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out.”This introduces a whole new dynamic and, I think, an intriguing one that has led to much confusion and perplexity and, I fear, no end of fancy and fiction.

The interpretive narrative currently in vogue is that Mary Magdalene became seen more as the figure of repentance and less as the primary witness of the Resurrection. That is really a false dichotomy, a false or at least unhelpful opposition, and one which obscures more than it clarifies. Mark clearly connects both repentance and resurrection in one economical phrase: “on the first day of the week, [Christ] appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons.”She is both a figure of repentance and a witness to the Resurrection.

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St. Mary Magdalene

The collect for today, the Feast of Saint Mary Magdalene, from The Book of Common Prayer (Canadian, 1962):

O ALMIGHTY God, whose blessed Son did sanctify Mary Magdalene, and call her to be a witness to his resurrection: Mercifully grant that by thy grace we may be healed of all our infirmities, and always serve thee in the power of his endless life; who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, world without end. Amen.

The Lesson: Acts 13:27-31
The Gospel: St John 20:11-18

Artemisia Gentileschi, The Repentant MagdaleneArtwork: Artemisia Gentileschi, The Repentant Magdalene, c. 1618. Oil on canvas, Galleria Palatina, Palazzo Pitti, Florence.