Again I am off to a slow start in my writing, I suppose it is the delinquency of summer. The weather is nice, skies are blue, and beer is cold; it is a perfect time to relax. Yesterday though, was an important feast day, and on a splendid summer day I thought and learned about Mary Magdalene. During these feast days I am always interested in viewing the liturgical reading that are chosen for a particular saints feast. For Mary Magdalene the second reading gives emphasis that this day belongs to her. The reading describes her coming across the Lords tomb, and she unknowingly encounters the risen Lord. “Woman, why are you weeping ?” the Gardner Jesus asks! She is to tell the disciples of the Lords resurrection, this is her day!
The first reading , when pondered in the light of today’s saint, becomes enlightening. In that reading the Hebrews have escaped the grip of Egypt but have not yet reached the promised land. They are grumbling and griping in the desert somewhat suspended between two worlds; suspended between what was and what was to come. Between their world and a promise. But what doe this have to do with Mary Magdalene ?
I admit, that first reading left me bewildered. It left me wondering until I discovered the location of the town Mary’s name is derived from. Her name, Magdalene, has its origins in the north Galilean town of Magdale. Mary was Jewish, though the town of her family was gentile. Like the Hebrews in the desert, she also was suspended between cultures. Culturally , she likely had many of the mannerisms and traditions of the Gentiles, though she also likely identified strongly with her religious background of Judaism. Both identified with, and cast out from both groups. With that type of background, I have to wonder what reception she received from the Pharisee’s? Their view of the covenant would have cast her as unclean simply through her association with the gentile towns folk. I also have to wonder how the chastising by the orthodoxy might have shaped her spiritually.MY guess is the ostracized saint would have been humbled, wounded, neglected, and possibly strengthened. That cultural background helps me to visualize some of the demons Jesus cast from her. Through her background I also get a glimpse into the ministry of Jesus, Jesus devoted much time ministering to those regions of Galilee. She is an example of the many wounds He healed throughout the region, and of the many demons He had driven out. Both penitent and liberated through the forgiveness of sin.
In learning of Mary’s background , her devotion takes on a greater meaning. Her devotion does much to describe Christianity , and it is no wonder she is the one to deliver the message of Jesus resurrection to the other disciples. She is the one that gained so much through Christ that she could never abandon Him. She is a testament to the strength, and dignity gained through Christ.