Mary Magdalene

The Twelve accompanied him, and also some women who had been cured…
Mary called the Magdalene…

From Luke 8:1-2

Last year, when our friend Nancy invited us to hear more about her tour to Israel, neither my husband nor I had decided to sign-up. Still, we listened attentively as Nancy presented the itinerary. As soon as I heard mention of Magdala, I made up my mind to go. For reasons unclear to me, my fear of small places, especially confining airline seats, suddenly diminished. I’d determined that I was willing to endure whatever it took to walk where Mary Magdalene walked two millenniums ago. This year, when the opportunity to return to Israel arose, no discussion was necessary. Of course I would return to the hometown of my most beloved of Jesus’ friends!

Magdala is one of several tiny towns nestled near the Sea of Galilee. Since Jesus called his first disciples from the shores of this lake, he certainly frequented the area early on in his ministry. Jesus taught in the synagogue there often. This building’s remains are one of the many treasures I looked forward to returning to on our second trip.

As I gazed upon the stones which formed the synagogue’s foundation and walls, I closed my eyes and breathed deeply. Jesus’ presence and that of his followers was undeniable. Images of numerous Israelis I’d passed in the markets and holy places we’d already visited reappeared in first century garb. Truly, this place was alive with Jesus and the many friends he’d made there. I couldn’t help feeling that Mary Magdalene had welcomed me back…

Dear God, you remain present in everyone and everything around us. Thank you for the brave souls like Mary Magdalene who embrace your love and share it so fervently.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

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Magdala

The Twelve accompanied him, and also some women who had been cured…
Mary called the Magdalene…

From Luke 8:1-2

When our friend Nancy invited us to hear more about her proposed tour to Israel, neither my husband nor I were certain we wanted to participate. We listened carefully as Nancy presented the itinerary. As soon as I heard mention of Magdala, I made up my mind to go. For reasons unclear to me, my fear of small places, especially confining airline seats, became of minimal concern. I found myself quite willing to endure whatever it took to walk where Mary Magdalene walked two millenniums ago…

Magdala is one of several tiny towns nestled near the Sea of Galilee. Since Jesus called his first disciples from the shores of this lake, he certainly frequented the area early on in his ministry. Jesus taught in the synagogue there often. This building’s remains are one of the many treasures I encountered there.

As I gazed upon the stones which formed the synagogue’s foundation and walls, I listened carefully. Though Jesus’ words were no longer audible in this holy place, his presence and that of his followers was undeniable. Images of numerous Israelis I’d passed in the markets and holy places we’d already visited reappeared in first century garb. Suddenly, this place was alive with Jesus and the many friends he’d made there. Though I didn’t see Mary Magdalene among them, I knew she must be nearby.

Dear God, you remain present in everyone and everything around us. Today, I will be certain to open my eyes and my heart to you.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

It’s Up To Us

The Pharisees came forward and began
to argue with Jesus. They were looking for
some heavenly sign from him as a test.

Mark 8:11

I admit to lots of anger over the suffering of those I’ve been given to love. Whether they are my own family members or children starving to death half a world away, I find it difficult to accept that there actually is nothing I can do to help. On these occasions, I become like the Pharisees who badgered Jesus for signs from above to legitimize his preaching. I find myself moaning, “If only you would penetrate the hearts of those in power as you have mine!” Of course, if Jesus had revealed himself as the Messiah to the Pharisees earlier on, they would have seen to his demise much sooner.

On this Eve of Ash Wednesday 2017, I find that I have my work cut out for me. God gifted the Pharisees and the rest of us with the ability to choose. Though I can’t speak for them or for anyone else, I can speak for me. I was thrilled when my own sons did the right thing on their own. In the same way, God is thrilled with us when we repair the world around us as only we can.

I think I’ve finalized my plans for Lent 2017. God has left it to me to do the best I can as I see it.

Patient God, forgive my impatience with others and with you. My only concern must be to do what I can to love those I have been given to love, here and everywhere.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Live Generously

“Whoever loses his life for my sake, will save it.”
Luke 9:24

Losing one’s life is frightening business. This request that we set aside all that we live for to save our lives seems contrary to this world’s ways. Yet, when I think about the most life-giving experiences I have had, I realize that these were the times when “I”, “my” and “me” were of little importance. The miracles I found in the people and places around me are what made those moments so memorable and rewarding. When I recognize God’s presence at these times, they become even more precious.

So, this second day of Lent, I will consider the tasks which lie before me. I will consider their contribution to the grand scheme of things -large or small. Rather than gauging what I might receive in return for my efforts, I will enjoy the opportunity to help others through what I do. All the while, I will look carefully for glimpses of God in the mix.
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Loving God, none of us can do more than to make the most of the moments we are given. Today, help me to do just that.

©2016 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Ash Wednesday Eve

“My heart is moved with pity for the crowd.
By now they have been with me for three days
and have nothing to eat.”

Mark 8:2

This Ash Wednesday Eve, I try to finalize my plans for Lent 2016. In years past, life has sometimes dictated my Lenten journey. Simply adjusting to the issues at hand with a loving heart proved to be a worthy practice. This year, I find myself with choices. So it is that I join Christians all over the world in selecting something to do -or not to do- which will make me a better person and this world a better place over the next forty days.

Tomorrow, I will join Christians everywhere once again. This time, we will flock to churches everywhere. In our parish, Ash Wednesday attendance rivals that of Christmas. Every Mass and prayer service will be filled with people seeking ashes, a visible sign of our relationships with God. On Ash Wednesday, we give special attention to Jesus who lived and died with absolute love for every one of us. Jesus revealed the mercy and compassion of our Benevolent Creator in everything he said and did. Because of what Jesus shared, most of us have given up our fear of hell to make room for our absolute hope in the promises of heaven. Yes, we gather with good reason.

There is something very special and welcoming about tomorrow’s gathering. No one will worry about having a seat or running out of ashes. Our only concern will be being present together to pay homage to the one who has fed us all in innumerable and amazing ways.

Dear God, thank you for Jesus who revealed your unquestionable love for us. Help us to walk with him this Lent.

©2016 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved