Each day, I have been overwhelmed by the proximity of Jesus and the disciples. Standing near where Jesus preached the Beatitudes and seeing the Bay of Parables brought these stories to life in a new way.

Yesterday, it was as if Mary, the mother of Jesus, was walking along side me in the Church of the Annunciation. Because she said yes, the word was made flesh here. I still struggle to capture the feelings of that experience into words. All words seem to fail to capture feeling the magnitude of that reality.

Today I was excited to meditate upon another Mary, the one called apostle to the apostles, Mary Magdalene. In Magdala we visited the excavated ruins of a 1st century synagogue.

In Luke 8:1-3 it reads: “He went on through cities and villages preaching and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with him and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities:  Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons came out…and many others who provided for them out of their means.”

Could Mary have been healed here? Could she have first heard Jesus preach here?

As I stood among these ruins, I found myself overwhelmed with gratitude. Because she persisted, we know details of Jesus’s crucifixion, burial, and resurrection. In John’s Gospel, the resurrected Jesus first appeared to Mary Magdalene. It is she who finds the empty tomb and runs to tell Peter. It is she who stands weeping outside and Jesus appears to her. In that moment, he also sends her on a mission , to go tell the others.

Here in Magdala, in Galilee, she encountered Jesus early on his ministry. Because of her healing in or near this place, she follows Jesus to Jerusalem (where we will soon travel). Because of her faith, the good news spreads. Because she persisted in faith.

As I sat in the chapel dedicated to her, I said a prayer of thanksgiving in gratitude for her witness and mission.

As we continue this pilgrimage, that we may share your steadfast faith and deep love for Our Lord, Jesus Christ. Saint Mary Magdalene, pray for us.

—Meghan Clark