The Life of St. Mary of Egypt, celebrated on this weekend in Great Lent, is often cited as an example of a great spiritual athlete. St. Mary indeed spends many decades in the desert, fasting, praying, repenting. She is transformed from a drunkard and prostitute into one of the greatest saints of the Church. But it is very easy to miss the point of her life.
She responds to the call of God with every fiber of her being. But the true point is God's call. She had no interest in changing her life when she made her way to Jerusalem from Egypt. Indeed, we are told that she "corrupted" many of the men who were on the boat that took her. The whole gambit of visiting the Cross in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher was nothing more than a game or a lark for her.
It is God, through the intervention of the Mother of God in her icon, that reaches out to St. Mary. It is God who brought her to her senses. It is God who directed her into the desert. It is God who poured out His grace on her, making her repentance possible.
The message to us is that there are none so corrupt or lost that they cannot be reclaimed and found. The Scripture says, "God is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance." We are nearing the end of our Lenten Fast. It is never too late to hear the kindness of God and to accept His mercy. May God draw us to Himself and grant us the grace of salvation!
(from Fr Stephen Freeman)