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and His infinite goodness! Inflame thy heart with love for Jesus! His word exhorts thee to perfection: excelsior, rise higher, excelsi aim highest. God is that aim. With the clear eye of wisdom select the road that leads thee to Him.*)
*) Thus a certain noble young lady understood life, when, at the age of twenty, she wrote:
“Death does not surprise, but finds ready, those who, without troubleor sadness, have kept before their mind the thought of it as an ever burning light for their guidance on the paths here below.”
And again: "My God, open for me those pure and luminous spaces, far beyond this earth; let my soul, in its mighty and sure flight, touch Heaven with its wings, to show Thee my impatience and the sole aim of its exertions."
(Gabrielle Thépault de Breignou. Died May 11. 1889.)
THE LAW OF PARDON MADE KNOWN TO
JESPITE of all clamors, usually
raised against every great man and every true reformer, Jesus contin
ually draws enthusiastic crowds to Himself. He is the friend of the people, who, in return, lovingly surround Him. Even the great and the rich think it an honor to receive Him.
Approachable by all, Jesus gives Himself to all classes of men and to all religious parties, in order to gain all for the truth. Good connections render the exchange of ideas easy, and enable one to influence the minds of others. We have to converse with, and live among, the men whom we want to lead. Diverging ideas do not necessarily exclude pleasant intercourse, nor a certain indulgence for men in good faith, nor compassion. According to the words of the Apostle, for a Christian There is neither Greek nor Roman, neither slave nor freeman."
Such, however, was not the rule among the ruling sects in Israel. Men of narrow and violent dispositions, they invented one calumny after another to ruin the divine Saviour. But He paid no attention to them; He had not come to please men, but to lead sinners to His father. And thus we find Him at table with publicans and sinners, but also with His opponents, the Pharisees. From the table of a Pharisee Jesus shall instruct us this time.
The host's name was Simon. He lived at Magdala, on the borders of Lake Tiberias, where he was considered a person of great influence. In this town lived also a sinful woman, by the name of Mary, who, hereafter, shall become renowned not only in the pages of the Gospel, but also in the early history of Christianity, and, in fact, throughout the world until the end of time.
Mary was the sister of Martha and Lazarus. From rabbinic sources we learn that her parents died when she was quite young. Raised according to her rank, she acquired the knowledge of the Sacred Books. With her gifts of mind she united the charms of great beauty.
From her place of birth, Magdala, she is called Mary of Magdala or, more commonly, Mary Magdalen. This title added to her name indicated to the Jews her high station. The house in which she was born was still shown in the first centuries of the Christian era. Magdala itself was a charming town, washed on its eastern side by the azure waves of the lake, and on the other sides surrounded by fertile plains covered with fruits and flowers. The Romans had stationed within its walls a garrison, that did not improve the bad odor in which the manners of its inhabitants stood. The misconduct of Mary can easily be explained from the nature of her surroundings.
Contemporary writers state she was married to a Doctor of the Law, named Paphus, who separated from her on account of her disorderly life.
By the Talmud and the Fathers of the early Church, Pandera is named several times as her accomplice. Pandera was an officer in the Roman army at Magdala, groomsman of Paphus, charged to preside at the nuptial banquet and to conduct the bride solemnly to her new residence.
How was Mary drawn to Jesus? At what place, and under what circumstances, had she the happiness of seeing Him for the first time? That meeting probably took place at Naim, a town in the neighborhood of Magdala, the memorable day, on which the widow's son was raised from
was raised from among the dead, which preceded the banquet at the house of Simon. There, lost in the multitude, but seen by the Seer of Israel, she, no doubt, received, by glance from His eyes, the light that manifested to her the slavery and shame of her life.
Now Jesus is approaching the city in which she lived. Hasten, Mary, hasten! Dost thou not know that He expects thee that very hour? Apparently she does; admiration and remorse push her towards Him, the giver of a new life.
“Shortly after the resurrection of the widow's son at Naim," says the commen