Mary Magdalene

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Mary Magdalene approaches 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.

Her name, Mary 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 wandering through a  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 people. 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.

Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early in the morning,
while it was still dark,
and saw the stone removed from the tomb.
So she ran and went to Simon Peter
and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them,
“They have taken the Lord from the tomb,
and we don’t know where they put him.”

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. Hers is a passion for Christ, as she knows well the indignity of a life without Christ. She is the one the Lord cast seven demons from, and one can assume during the years she was possessed by her demons  were the years she could not see the Lord.

Alleluia, alleluia.
Tell us, Mary, what did you see on the way?
I saw the glory of the risen Christ, I saw his empty tomb.
Alleluia, alleluia.

Standing besides an empty tomb was as frightening as if those devils latched onto her again. Her fear is of that of which she thinks is to come. She fears the return of the dark days of her past, she fears being separated from the grace of God again. She fears being plunged back into darkness and of being driven back into her tomb to die. The agony of Mary of Magdale is not something discussed much.

We learn of her when she is set free of her demons. We meet her when Jesus enters into her life, there is no biblical dialogue of her darkness when she is separated from the grace of God. We hear of her passion for the Lord. It is evident as she stands by the cross, and when she anoints him with a pricey ointment, and when she bathes His feet with her tears and dries them with her hair. Her passion for Christ is well documented, but as she stands at an empty tomb we are reminded of her fear. Her agonizing fear is that she might have to return to the darkness her savior rescued her from. We should hear the panic in her voice when she screams Where is my Lord, where have you taken him. It is through her panic that we can understand her joy. It is through her darkness that we see His shining light. The contrasts of Mary Magdalene should not be forgotten. She has crawled through the darkness, and has bathed in the light.

Mary’s contrasts is what makes her relevant today. She is truly human and has witnessed the mud of this earth. In her journey she is able to guide others from darkness to light, she knows the path because she has traveled it herself. Her name, Magdalene, is synonymous with sin and suffering and pain. Her name Mary evokes Mother of God, and that speaks of redemption and salvation. Mary Mother of God, the virgin who listens to an angels voice. “Hail Mary, full of grace! The Lord is with thee!” She gives birth at the nativity and salvation enters the world. The Mary  Magdalene brings forth new life too, the angels listen to her tears of labor crying for her Lord. The angels ask “Woman, why are you weeping” and she replies “They have taken my Lord.” The gardener asks “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Then He calls her by name, “Mary!” and suddenly she recognizes Him, the risen LORD!

 

 

Feast of Saint Mary Magdalene
Lectionary: 603

SGS 3:1-4b

2 cor 5:14-17

Ps 63:2, 3-4, 5-6, 8-9

Jn 20:1-2, 11-18

 

 

parables

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The disciples approached Jesus and said,
“Why do you speak to the crowd in parables?”

Parables are interpreted, they are puzzles. One can think they understand, and a moment later try to answer another quizzical question. They have different meanings to different people, and they can have a different meaning to the same person at a different time or circumstance. They are intended to be that way, almost immediately understood and then questioned again. They encourage wonder and amazement, they challenge and beg for dialogue; and that is precisely how one should approach God. It is with amazement and understanding and an open mind.

Thursday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

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Pre-Ramble:I think it might be a good time for a ramble, there have been a few things I have pondered the past few weeks.(…and Today’s scriptures also seem to have generated at least some thoughts.. .) From other articles I have spent my time reading, I also have begun to look at the differences in spirituality between the liturgy before and after Vatican-two. The scripture readings of today are that of Martha and Mary, and also Abraham, Sarah, and the visit of the three angels. All of the topics are not closely related, but they are a log of a week’s thoughts, and thoughts tend to merge together. Let’s start with the liturgy. End Pre-Ramble

There has been enormous chatter regarding our modern Mass and its familiar theme of gather around the table. The imagery is of course from the last supper. The flow of that Mass often seems to be first awaiting everyone to assemble, then for a group to prepare the meal, then the feast, and finally its conclusion. The generalized feeling is that the meal does not take place without my presence, and that my presence requires my participation. It also seems, at least to me, to have three parts. It has a beginning, middle, and end. How does that contrast with the Liturgy of old?

For start, while the new-fangled Mass has a distinct beginning and end, the traditional Mass seems continuous. It seems continuous as the Liturgy of Hours is a continuous prayer. Why does one Mass seem continuous while the other periodic? The reason, to me, is that the traditional Mass neither requires my presence or my participation. It continues like clockwork with nothing dependent on me. That also implies that I receive a benefit independent on my action. It is a Mass that is said for me, and not with me. It is a lot like salvation, something done for me by the LORD, without any input from me. With the Mass I witness what was done for me. It explains Christ’s sacrifice, and the Mass is said in a manner that reminds one of the eternal and the perpetual. It is everlasting.

Now for the two or three sentence commentary. First, I think both are valid but I also think the “new Mass” should be presented in a way that it explains the traditional Mass to Christians. That says they should complement each other, and not compete against each other. The new should not exist without the old. Now for the next topic. Many might argue.

The scriptures also speak of old and new. Take the apperance of the Angels to Abraham Gn 18:1-10a. The Angels appeared as three, and three angels speaks loudly of a famous Russian Icon called the “Hospitality of Abraham.” That icon (Andrei Rublev’s) also is known to represent the Holy Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The New Testament described in the Old. New and Old, and what about Abraham and Sarah? It is Abraham that converses with the Angels. It is Abraham that tells Sarah to prepare a meal. The Angels tell Abraham that the elderly Sarah will have a child. It is Abraham’s hospitality that reaps reward. It is described in the narrative of a patriarchy. What about the New? In the New Testament it is a young virgin that speaks to an angel, and she is told directly that she will carry the Lord. There is a comparison between the two. The comparison can be continued with Elizabeth and Zachariah. God enters into creation without the efforts of a Patriarch. Man need not do anything for the grace of salvation. We are saved by God, God alone. If man does anything, he makes mistakes. He sins. That theme continues with Martha and Mary Lk 10:38-42. Jesus informs the disgruntled Martha that Mary has chosen the better path. Mary simply listens to the Word of God, and that is what the Lord asks everyone to do. Certainly that does not mean that the efforts of Martha were for nothing, they were important not just the most important. Just as in the Mass my participation is important, but it is infinitesimally less important than what Jesus Christ did for me.

Mary Magdalene

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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.

Sixteenth Sunday of Ordinary time

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I hesitated to write about the Sunday readings, even though I knew early on what I found interesting about the readings this year. It might have been a laziness brought about by the summer heat, too much time staring into the trees and not enough typing.

The readings are all about Shepherd’s . The reading from Jeremiah starts with woe to you shepherds that scatter the flocks of my pasture, and the reading concludes with “Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will raise up a righteous shoot to David; as king he shall reign and govern wisely…” The reading starts wit the bad shepherds, and then describes the good shepherd. For the gospel reading Jesus has pity on the people “for they are a people without a shepherd.” Later Jesus will declare ” I am the good Shepherd.” Jesus makes many comparisons between Himself and a Shepherd. It was an old theme through out the mid-east. Rulers were compared to shepherds, and people prayed quietly and dearly for a good shepherds. They were rare.

Think of those ancient peoples shepherds. There were pharaohs, kings like Herod, the kings of the neighboring lands that often were at war with the chosen people. One can add to the list Pontius Pilot, and Caesar, and perhaps even the Sanhedrin. They all shepherded people.

When I think of that ancient landscape, that ancient environment, I think of the conversations people must have had about their shepherds. Presumably one of the reasons Jesus spoke in parables was to disguise his conversations about the lands shepherds. Most behaved more like butchers than shepherd, ready to put down any uprising against authority. Few would dare argue with authority, or recognize any but the shepherd in power. Many shepherds ruled by fear, and there was little discussion  or opposition.

I used phrases like ancient landscape and environment for a reason, and that was to work Pope Francis’s encyclical on the environment into the discussion. Shepherding people in the first and twenty first century are radically different, and much of that difference is due to modern communication technology. Think today of how many shepherds are calling “Their Flock.” Those whistling the loudest can be a half continent away, and that volume can be amplified by their influence on social media. So much static, and distortion to contend with today. So much influence peddling, and political spin. Radio, television, newspapers, social media; all telling us who “the Good Shepherd is.” That is our environment, and in all of that noise, we must be attentive to our shepherds voice. It is  today so easy to confuse “the Good Shepherd” with the slickness of an advertising campaign. That is the environment of this modern technological environment, for good or bad.