Friday, July 22, 2011

The lingering Mary

Christ appearing to Mary Magdalene
by William Brassey Hole
TODAY'S SPECIAL: John 20:1-18

TO CHEW ON: "Then the disciples went away again to their own homes, But Mary stood outside by the tomb weeping, and as she wept she stooped down and looked into the tomb." John 20:11

Of all the disciples it is Mary called Magdalene who puts the most human face on the grief Jesus' friends felt as His death. She is the Mary who was named among Jesus' women disciples. She is among the women "who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities." She herself was delivered from seven evil spirits. And she was grateful -- to the extent she traveled with Jesus and supported Him with "substance," probably money and service.

(This closeness may be why there has been unsanctified speculation about Mary being intimate with Jesus in a sexual way. There is no grounds at all for this in the Bible.)

Mary Magdalene was loyal to the end. She was there in the crowd of women, looking on from afar when Jesus was crucified. In our reading today we find her getting up while it was still dark on the day after Sabbath, to slip out to Jesus' grave  and grieve.

There what a cruel shock! The tomb seal was broken and the body missing. She suspected grave robbers. Distraught, she reported back to Peter and John, "They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him."

She then must have gone back to the tomb with the men, for after they left, we see her there again, weeping. Maybe to reassure herself that He really was missing, she entered the vault where His body should have been and encountered two angels in white. It was after a short conversation with them that she saw Him. Not only that, He talked to her!

It happened when she lingered. Not in a hurry to get on with her life, she stayed after the others had left. Jesus met her then.

Maybe we can learn something from this. Maybe we need to be a little less tuned toward entering or reentering the hustle and bustle of the day. A little more willing to linger.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, help me to learn from loyal, grateful, practical yet willing-to-linger Mary Magdalene. Amen.

MORE: Feast of Mary Magdalene
Today is the Feast of Mary Magdalene. The liturgy for this day begins with this Collect:

"Almighty God, whose blessed Son restored Mary Magdalene to health of body and of mind, and called her to be a witness of his resurrection: Mercifully grant that by your grace we may be healed from all our infirmities and know you in the power of his unending life; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen."

Magdalene is a historical fiction account of this woman by Angela Hunt.

Excerpt from a starred booklist review:

"Angered by the assertions of The Da Vinci Code (2003)--in particular, that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene--Hunt tells the traditional story, more or less, of Mary Magdalene. The "more or less" would be that Hunt turns Mary into a staunch feminist and downplays her history as a prostitute. She is Yeshua's shrewd advisor and helpmate, no more. And she is an interesting woman…"

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