something about Mary reprise

Today's Gospel reading is one of my all time favorites. I thought I'd re-purpose an old blog post from the Feast of Mary Magdalene a few years ago for the occasion.

Today is the Feast of Mary Magdalene. Not only that, but today's Gospel reading is one of my all time favorites:
Mary stayed outside the tomb weeping. ... she turned around and saw Jesus there, but did not know it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” She thought it was the gardener and said to him, “Sir, if you carried him away, tell me where you laid him, and I will take him.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni,” which means Teacher. Jesus said to her, “Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord,” and then reported what he told her. (John 20)

Mary's simple response to the Risen Christ - "Rabbouni" - comes back to me often in prayer. She is the "apostle to the apostles." Not only was she the first to encounter the resurrected Jesus, she then immediately went to spread the good news. Of course, as other gospel stories tell us, her news was not necessarily believed. But that's for another post.

Recently someone that I know and admire who has 16 years of Catholic education under her belt asked me if I thought it was true that Mary Magdalene was not a prostitute. She apparently had come to this conclusion not based on spiritual reading or church teaching, but a popular novel. I shared with her that of course Mary was not a prostitute, that no where in Scripture does it tell us that she was. She looked at me incredulously, a I told her that what Scripture does tell us about Mary is that she was the "Apostle to the Apostles." The misconceptions about Mary, the cover up and smear story if you like, only came later. I could conjecture as to why this version of the story was spread, but for now I'll just say that for some reason it seems that those in power were afraid of the power of the real story of this strong woman. Again, that's for another post.

At prayer this morning, we reflected on this quote by our founder, Margaret Anna Cusack:
Women worked not only for the apostles, but with them; they were co-workers; they were fellow-helpers; and... their services [were] equally prominent and equally important.
What struck us was that Margaret Anna says so definitively (in the late 1800's) what we are only now coming to know - the role of women in the early Church. And how did she know this? As a convert from the Protestant tradition, she had grown up reading the Scriptures. And if you read the Scriptures, you read the story of women who stayed with Jesus at the cross. You read the story of women who funded the early church. Even in Scripture stories that come to us through a patriarchal system, you read of the "prominent" role of women. I for one wonder, if this much made it into the official canon, how much more there must be to the story!

Sadly, most of the folks in the pews (of Catholic churches anyway) still have not heard the good news about women. Today, the feast of Mary Magdalene, is a good day to resolve to do something about that!

Well, today is not the Feast of Mary Magdalene, but Easter Tuesday. Still, it is a good day to proclaim the good news in all its forms, including Jesus' good news for women!

1 comment:

Kelly_SSJ/A said...

Thank you for another reminder that the reality of Easter is meant to be spread everyday of the year! :)