Sunday, July 02, 2006

Mary Magdalene's Saint Day

Mary Magdalene’s saint day is this month, the 22nd. She is one of my favorite saints; I like people who stand out in a crowd. She gets mentioned a lot in the Bible; so I assume she was a stand-out person. She’s a woman who was persistent and loyal – all the way through the preaching and the healing and the dying and the rising from the dead. She didn’t run away from what she knew would be the smell at Jesus’ tomb. She came prepared to do what was needed. I suspect she’d been doing that for some time as she followed Jesus around the area.

Somehow I just can’t see the male apostles out amongst the crowd gathering up the leftovers after a meal. Undoubtedly Martha and Mary and Mary Magdalene were out there doing what women do – cleaning up after the rest of the family. In fact, I suspect that it was Martha who discovered someone had fishes and loaves; she was pretty resourceful.

For me, as for many others, Mary is different. She has been maligned through the years since the Pope declared her to be a prostitute and indicated that this Mary was actually the woman mentioned at the well, the woman who poured out the oil on Jesus’ feet, and several other women, whose stories are related in the Bible. He couldn’t seem to get that women were included in Jesus’ ministry; so he lumped them all together in Mary Magdalene. Pretty short sighted, if you ask me.

The commentary for her saint day says that the Eastern Church regards Mary as the equal of an apostle and the prayer is:

Almighty God, whose blessed son restored Mary Magdalene to health of body and of mind, and called her to be a witness to his resurrection: Mercifully grant that by your grace we may be healed from all our infirmities and know you in the power of his unending life; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Sounds sort of like the twelve step prayer for the Seventh Step, where one asks to be healed of all “character defects.” Apparently, Mary Magdalene was healed.

Lately much has been made of the Gospel of Mary, a short piece in which she imparts special knowledge that Jesus has given her to the other apostles. Nothing in the writing is revolutionary except the idea that the men listened to a woman teaching them. I admire Mary, who may or may not have done the things mentioned in that gospel, but she certainly created enough following that someone immortalized her. Jesus promised her everlasting life, but I’m sure she didn’t expect her legend to be alive and well and debated hotly about two thousand years later.

I want to be more like Mary Magdalene: strong, loyal, doing the things that need to be done, remembered for her love.

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