On a liturgical note: July

By Canon Philip Gillespie

As a rule we do not generally like change because it can bring with it the notion of uncertainly and instability – sometimes even carrying the idea that what went before was not good. Perhaps rather than change, let us use the word 'development' for the fact that, from this coming 22 July, Saint Mary Magdalene will be celebrated in the universal church as a Feast rather than a Memorial.

Hardly earth-shattering you might say – the only difference many of us will notice is that at the Mass there will be a Gloria and also (when it is officially translated from the Latin and published for use) a Preface proper to the Feast. However, Pope Francis's decision to raise Mary Magdalene to the level of a Feast in the Liturgy speaks volumes about his understanding of the importance of mercy and love.

Mary Magdalene was the one who, in tradition, anointed the Lord's feet with perfume, the one "who so loved Christ and was so greatly loved by Christ". What is certain is that Mary Magdalene was part of the group of Jesus's disciples; she accompanied him to the foot of the Cross and – in the garden where she met him at the tomb – was the first 'witness of Divine Mercy'.

St Mary Magdalene is an example of a true and authentic evangeliser – that is, an evangelist who announces the central joyful message of Easter, giving her the title of 'Apostle of the apostles' and therefore making her almost a patron saint for all missionaries, catechists and evangelisers because she invites us to share with her not only the joy of finding Jesus ("He whom my heart loves" as we read in the Old Testament Song of Songs, which is given to us for the Feast) but also the joy of sharing with others the Good News of the fullness of life and love which He brings to each and every one of us.

Which of course begs a question: how will you and I be good news to people whom we meet today?