Wednesday, June 15, 2016
MARY MAGDALENE HAS BEEN UPGRADED BY THE POPE
This week the Pope announced that Saint Mary Magdalene 'apostle to the apostles' July 22 Day would be bumped up from a 'memorial' day to a 'feast' day. For those of us who are not Catholic, like myself, this doesn't sound terribly impressive And, even for Catholics I am guessing it is not hugely significant but any gesture that gives the life of Mary Magdalene more attention is welcome.
She is a very mysterious character and every branch of the Christian religion seems to have a different interpretation of who exactly she was and what exactly was her relationship to Christ. All agree that she was the first one to see him and speak to him after the resurrection. That in itself makes her extraordinary and very special. Where the confusion comes in is that there are a lot of Marys mentioned in the Gospel. Some will talk about the 'three Marys' or Mary of Bethany being different than Mary Magdalene and the prostitute Christ saved from stoning being a random woman never to be heard from again etc... Who really knows. I have my own version and I will share it with you.
I think Mary Magdalene is the prostitute, the one who washes Christ's feet with her tears, the one who becomes his dearest and closest disciple, the one who finds him alive after his death and the one who becomes his wife and moves with him to France and has his children! Yes. I believe that story. It adds up perfectly and is a beautiful example of Christ's teaching and what his life would have been like. He would in no way have been celibate as that would go against Hebrew traditions (rabbis were always married), and he was with her constantly and loved her. Why not? Anyone who would argue and say Christ would not take a prostitute for a wife need only think on the moment when he stopped a crowd of hypocritical villagers from throwing rocks at a woman until she was dead. What a horrific punishment. If that wasn't Mary Magdalene then why is she the repentant saint? What is she repenting? And when Christ told her to go forth and sin no more he was giving her a clean slate. A chance to start all over. So why couldn't he view her as an appropriate wife. His crucifixion was to give us all a clean slate, so if we want to believe it of ourselves than we had better believe it of Mary.
She also is shown with the jar of oil in so many images. Of course she is the same Mary who anoints Christ's feet with oil after washing them with her tears. Those were tears of gratitude and joy. Think about how amazing this woman is. She was obviously dealt some sort of very bad hand to end up a prostitute, then probably didn't do something someone wanted so that angry 'customer' turned on her, got the whole town riled up and almost killed her in a very brutal way, but along comes a man who speaks the plain and simple truth to the crowd, forcing them to look at their own hypocrisy and blood lust and her life is spared. She then devotes her entire being to the service of that one good man. She becomes his most ardent apostle and follower and loves him with more heart and soul than anyone. (not including his mother) Christ mentions her by name many more times than any other of the apostles. His love for her is quite clear. And he is a man. A very real man and he lives by the rules. And the rules are to marry and have children. Which I believe is what they did.