Mary, the mother of Jesus…and Mary Magdalen, (whom the Church honors today)…are both on my mind as I write this post tonight. Allow me to explain the connection between my thoughts about these two holy women, and how they relate to our sidewalk witness in front of Planned Parenthood.
The idea for this reflection began when I watched Abby Johnson’s newly released video testimony this past week (LINKED HERE). It is titled “I Wanted to Make the World a Better Place“. This short (3 min.) video is a heart-breaking walk through her former Planned Parenthood abortion facility (now the headquarters of 40 Days for Life). The saddest and most surprising part of the video for me was when she said that not a week goes by that she does not dream about being in that place. It haunts her still!
The story of Abby Johnson’s redemption made me think of one of my favorite episodes of “The Chosen“, (a streaming series about Jesus, which just concluded it’s second season last week.) In episode 6 of season two, there is a scene in which Mary Magdalen is despairing about returning to Jesus after a brief relapse back into her old life of sin. It was Mary (mother of Jesus), who gently guided her to the tent where Jesus was praying…and stood beside her…giving her the courage to face Him…in this heart-warming scene. I challenge you not to cry as you watch it! (Just a brief 3 min. clip…CLICK HERE).
Today, July 22nd, the Catholic Church honors Mary Magdalen. The Gospel reading from today tells the story of Mary Magdalen coming into the home of a Pharisee, where Jesus was reclined at table. She knelt down behind him, soaked his feet with her tears, kissed and wiped them clean with her hair, and anointed them with oil. I can just imagine the faces of the Pharisees as they witnessed this scene! How much courage it must have taken Mary Magdalen to do this in front of such judgmental men! What humiliation! But what love! Her love for Jesus was greater than her fear of humiliation. It turned out that she was actually making reparation to Jesus for the insults that he had endured from his hosts. As he told them:
“I came into your house; you gave Me no water for My Feet; but she has bathed My feet with tears, and has wiped them with her hair. You gave Me no kiss; but she, from the moment she entered, has not ceased to kiss My feet. You did not anoint My head with oil; but she has anointed My feet with ointment. Wherefore I say to you, her sins, many as they are, shall be forgiven her, because she has loved much. But he to whom little is forgiven, loves little.” And He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”Luke 7
So…how do these two Mary’s relate to our sidewalk witness at Planned Parenthood? I think we can relate in two ways. Just as Jesus’ beloved mother loves to bring us to her Son when we fall…we are there on the sidewalk to try to help others to get to Him as well. And just as Mary Magdalen offered her humiliation and suffering in reparation for the sins of others…we do the same when we experience humiliation on the sidewalk.
The photo above is from my shift yesterday. I was amazed that all three of us were wearing the same color! I swear, we did NOT call each other the night before! Anyway, during our early morning shift, a young woman arrived seeking an abortion. She was fearful about having a fourth child, while working three jobs to help a sick family member. We told her that we would help her financially and materially and would accompany her throughout her pregnancy and beyond. We could see that she was torn in her decision, as tears began to stream from her eyes. She listened to us and for a few moments we thought she was going to allow us to call a pregnancy help center for her. Just then, a passerby stopped to scream at us. Using many expletives, she told us to get the “F” away from her and to leave her alone. At this point, another passerby (a man)…came to our defense and yelled to her to leave us alone, saying that we were doing a good thing, trying to help her. She ended up going into PP. We don’t know if she went through with it or not, but I hope you will pray for her.
But, in our love for her…our gentleness and the complete contradiction of the behavior of the woman who yelled at us…she was given the opportunity to choose love over fear, light over darkness. If she wasn’t able to trust Jesus yesterday, we pray that she will come back to Him in the future. For anyone who feels that they have fallen too far into hopelessness…just ask Mary (both of them)…to help you get the courage to come back!
We need help next week for the following times:
Wednesday, 7/28 from 2:30-3:00 (Chris alone)
Friday, 7/30 from 9:00-10:00 (Dean alone) and 3:00-4:00 (Mary Ann alone)
Please email Jen at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are able to help!
God bless you!