Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Mary of Magdala

from the Gospel of Mary Magdalene:
The Savior replied, "Every nature, every modeled form, every creature, exists in and with each other. They will dissolve again into their own proper root. For the nature of matter is dissolved into what belongs to its nature. Anyone with two ears able to hear should listen!"

In the Catholic and Orthodox traditions, July 22nd is the Feast of Mary Magdalene. The two traditions differ in their views of who Mary Magdalene was. Even though John Paul II apologized and sought to correct the error, for many centuries ~ since Pope Gregory's sermon on the topic ~ she was seen as a prostitute. There was an assumption that she was the woman caught in adultery. Or that one of the seven devils cast out of her was prostitution. Many Christian traditions continue to see her that way ~ or insist upon that as her image.

The Orthodox never saw her as a prostitute. To them she was always the Apostle to the Apostles. She is the one who first encountered the risen Christ, the one who told the remainder of the men waiting in the Upper Room, walking the streets, that Jesus had risen.

No matter. She is a controversial subject. Some would like to see her married to Jesus, bearing his children. Others would have her living the remainder of her days in a cave, penitent to the very end.

I believe the controversy is what makes her strong. She herself is simply a woman. In the Gospel of Mary Magdalene, Peter essentially calls her a liar and her response is to weep. It's a different level and form of response than we think should happen. Why? Why is it that we want, need, determine that in order to be strong, she must 'fight back'? Her strength lies in her knowledge of Jesus, in her capacity for compassion, in her following the commands of her Lord.

Mary of Magdala has always been special to me. Even when I thought she was a reformed prostitute living as a hermit in a cave, she called to me. I considered her blessed by the fact that she was there, with Him, learning. What matter how she got there? Who cares about her past? What difference does it make? For me, it made none. I am glad that she has become well-known, even controversial. It makes one more woman of wisdom in the Light.

What do you know of Mary of Magdala? What difference has she made in your life? What 'saint' or 'holy person' has influenced you more? Why?

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