THE FEAST OF MARY MAGDALENE 22 JULY
Mary Magdalene has attracted a significant body of writing, speculation and devotion, by no means all of which can be substantiated from the gospels, to put it mildly. What can she say to us today?
One She was an important person in the gospel narratives, especially at the time of the Passion. She was clearly valuable to Jesus. It is good that women were important to Jesus. His story is made of many who were important to Him, just as each one of us is important to Him.
Two Mary had, in some way, suffered: Jesus cast seven demons out of her. Very few of us escape suffering – it is a part of our lives, and it is unhelpful to airbrush out suffering from ‘successful’ lives. We are loved for the whole of who we are.
Three Luke tells us that Mary was one of a group of women who supported Jesus out of their own means. This must encourage all of us who take time and trouble and who give money in the interests of others.
Four Mary was persistent in her following of Jesus. She may have had doubts, she may have wondered if it was all worth it; which of us doesn’t? But we can give value to the simple but powerful virtue of persistence that we see in Mary
Five She was courageous. Mary features very prominently in the gospel accounts of the Crucifixion, burial and resurrection of Jesus. We probably could not bear it, but brutality was a common thing. Even so, being so visible in the execution of a criminal and its aftermath must have taken great courage. We think of those today for whom being followers of Jesus takes great courage.
Six Mary was entrusted with being a really significant witness to the resurrection. She was the first, or one of the first, to see and report this wonderful thing. Each time we report this wonderful thing, we add just a little to the fabric of the great happening in which Mary was so central.
Seven Mary bravely and dutifully reported what she had seen. Duty to what we understand God wants us to do for him is another simple, but powerful thing for us.
Eight Mary is a saint in all the main denominations. There are people to whom we can look up, whose example we can follow.
Nine For much of the history of the church, from the sixth century to the twentieth, Mary was woefully misrepresented. Many have been those, and many today, about whom false rumours and wrong information have been and are spread. May our prayers be with them.
P.H. June 2015