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.
Tell us, Mary, what did you see on the way?
I saw the glory of the risen Christ, I saw his empty tomb.
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
2 cor 5:14-17
Ps 63:2, 3-4, 5-6, 8-9
Jn 20:1-2, 11-18