Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Mary Magdalene

As everybody knows, Mary Magdalene was also Mary of Bethany, who was also the sinful woman who poured perfume on Jesus' s feet, became Jesus's wife, and moved to a seaside villa with him after the Resurrection. Thus causing St John to be terribly upset.

That's everybody whose history of the early Church is gleaned by reading Press reports of Dan Brown's fiction, obviously. One of the great advantage of our post-modern life is that the big narratives - coherent history, research, rubbish like that - are filtered through the lens of what is more interesting by journalists who increasingly aren't required to understand what they're writing about.

Though, to be fair, the Pope that decided she was the original tart-with-a-heart didn't exactly help in this. She gathers wild ideas in fitting with the Zeitgeist, does Mary Mag.

We don't know what Mary thought about Jesus other than that he was the Rabbi she loved. Everything else is speculation. She followed him - as did so many others, men and women. She followed him to the Cross, followed him to the grave. Her own hopes and fears for the future blown to pieces, she goes down there on that Sunday morning.

Even later that day, the disciples will still be locking the door for fear of the authorities. Which puts the love and bravery of Mary and her mates into perspective. They go down to the tomb, without male muscle, in the half light of dawn, as women paying homage to an executed heretic and rebel. And that, knowing that there's a guard on the tomb.

After that there is all confusion. The women either say nothing "because they were afraid", or else Mary demands of an unexpected young man / supernatural being that he tell her where Jesus's body is.

But however it pans out, she is rewarded. She sees her Rabbi. She knows his love conquers even death. And she shares the best news of all with a bunch of fearful, confused disciples. And sticks by it despite the fact that it is, to all rational thought, ludicrous. Then if you're able to risk armed soldiers in the first light of dawn in a graveyard, you're not gonna worry too much about Peter, are you?

I guess with Mary, the story for me is about bravery, love and faithfulness. Everything else is poetic licence. Let's celebrate her for what she is. Not the story we'd like her to tell.


  1. A woman worth celebrating indeed. I was interested in a blog comment I read this morning that points out that it is only in the western church that Mary Magdalene acquired a 'bad' reputation. The eastern church puts much greater emphasis on her role as apostle to the apostles, the 1st witness to the resurrection.

  2. Love this! Thank you!

  3. The good thing about enlightened views on MM is that her reputation so besmirched is recovered. I always think that those who have painted her as a sinful women, ignore the facts of 'conversion of heart' of mercy and forgiveness, which was the gift of our redeemer, Jesus Christ.

    Whatever Mary's history (and it's only speculation written down) the evidence of her being the whole church for those brief moments in time until the disciples got of their buts and went to the tomb places her on a part with the apostles. Her first witness is so convincing because of who she was, rather than what she was.


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