EP: Psalms 30, 149; Exodus 15:19-21; 2Corinthians 1:3-7
Today is the feast day of St. Mary Magdalene. There are many stories and theories about Mary that have developed through the centuries about this woman. From the Gospel accounts we know she was healed by Jesus early on in his ministry. After that healing she became one of Jesus' followers, ever present, one of the few to stay and witness his crucifixion and then one of the individuals to go to the tomb to first discover what would later be understood as his resurrection. She is also, in the Gospel of John, the first person to whom the resurrected Jesus makes himself known.
In the Orthodox Christian Church, their tradition places her on a par with the 11 apostles. Alas, our western tradition has not done that: our tradition co-opted to a much more misogynistic understanding and translation of the Scriptures. We do accord her this honor of giving her a saint's feast day, which is the minimum of the recognition that should be afforded her.
Mary of Magdala certainly understood, and lived into what we hear from the prophet Zephaniah today: Do not fear...The Lord, your God, is in your midst...he will renew you in his love, he will exult over you with loud singing...And will save the lame and gather the outcast, and will change their shame into praise and renown in all the earth. Mary appears to have been an outcast before she met and was healed by Jesus. She recognized and altered her life because of that discernment and was a faithful witness, friend, companion and apostle of Jesus. I cannot help but think and hope and pray that the Church of England's decision to (finally) consecrate women as bishops of the Church is done with the model of Mary of Magdala in mind. A better model would be hard to find.
Copyright 2008, John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.