On this, our parish feast day, I think sometimes we take for granted just how BLESSED we are to have the physical presence of St. Mary Magdalene herself, upholding this Church in prayer. We received her relics just over a year ago, and it should come a surprise to no one here today at what an amazing effect her presence has had on our community. Through her prayers, and by the Grace of God alone, our parish family has not only physically grown in number, but I think many can say that they have also been able to spiritually grow over this past year as well.
These relics have been through an incredible journey, and I thought I would take a quick minute to talk about the journey that this very piece of bone has been through, before finishing it’s journey to our little Church in the woods.
This bone was present…when Mary first heard the sweet voice of GOD who became man in the person of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
This bone was present…as Christ expelled 7 demons from Mary’s body, starting her on the path to becoming an ardent follower, listener, and Disciple of Christ.
This bone was present…and walked through all of the villages of Judea and Galilee following Jesus, as He preached about the kingdom of God.
This bone was present…and was following closely behind the God Man, weeping and wailing, as He was walking with His cross to his death on Golgotha. This bone no doubt shook with sorrow, as it was at the foot of the cross after Christ was crucified. It shuttered at the sound of nails piercing the hands of God on the instrument of our salvation.
This bone was present…as our Lord was taken down from the cross by Joseph and Nicodemus. It watched as the entrance of His tomb was covered by a large stone, entombing the source of all life.
This bone was present…in the body of a woman who for a day couldn’t sleep, and woke up so early in the morning after the Sabbath, that the sun was under the horizon. She was so impatient to run to the place where our Lord lay, that she couldn’t stand waiting until daybreak. She wanted to see and to continue to love the Rabbi who had fallen asleep.
This bone was present…and shook with astonishment when it saw that the tomb had been opened, and that it was empty. It was apart of the body of the very first person in the entire universe that saw that Christ had Risen, and had destroyed the very thing that we as human beings fear the most…Death.
This bone was present…as the news of Christ’s Resurrection was spread throughout all of Jerusalem. It was there when St. Mary went to the belly of the beast, into Pagan Rome, and without fear, and with the same zealousness as in Jerusalem, preached the Risen the Christ.
This bone was present…and stood before Emperor Tiberias himself, speaking about the innocent man who preached the kingdom of God, performed miracles, and was holy and powerful before God and all mankind. With no fear of reprisal, St. Mary spoke about how our Lord was wrongfully executed by Jewish Authorities, and had this unjust sentence confirmed by Pilate, whom the emperor Himself had put there! This bone had no fear, because it had Christ in it’s corner!
This bone was present…as the first red egg was given to the Emperor to proclaim the risen Christ. It was from that moment, that the giving of a red egg at Pascha had started in the Christian Church, and it is something that we still celebrate and carry on after the Midnight Liturgy, even today.
This bone stayed was present…and stayed in Rome to witness the judgment of St. Paul in the book of Acts. St. Mary stayed there for two years, and then went to Ephesus where St. John labored for the faith. This bone then fell asleep in the Lord in Ephesus, waiting to experience that same resurrection that it had witnessed years before.
This bone stayed in Ephesus for centuries, until it was taken to Constantinople, and placed in the monastery church of St. Lazarus in the 9thCentury. She eventually found her way to Jerusalem during the crusades, and ended up in the hands of a nun of the Convent in Bethany, which was built over the place where Christ stepped up on the donkey to begin His journey into Jerusalem. It then was bequeathed to St. Sabbas Monastery in Detroit, and then made its way to it’s new home here in the Church that carries her name.
When we take a moment to stop and think about all of the absolutely incredible things that this bone has seen, we gain a deeper connection to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Our ties to the story of our salvation are not just the recounting of a story in a book. They are real, physical, and can be experienced in our participation in the Divine Services. And when parishes like ours are entrusted to care for the relics of the saints who have gone before us, our ties to that Salvation history go even deeper…and that is a blessing that not many parishes of our size can claim.
Through the prayers of St. Mary Magdalene, whose bones have been through and seen so much, O Lord Jesus Christ Have Mercy on Us and Save us!