Mary Magdalene: Friend

A couple of days ago I wrote about The Gospel of Mary Magdalene, a part of which was discovered in the late 1800s and eventually translated and published.

Today I consider what has been included in the New Testament about her, and a couple of comments about her two-centuries-old case of identity theft.

– She was a follower of Jesus.
– Jesus healed her – of exactly what, we don’t know. We are told that 7 demons were cast out of her.
–  She was a woman of means, and helped to fund Jesus’ ministry as she and other women followed Jesus as disciples. I can only imagine that she was very much her own person, as following an itinerant preacher wasn’t something that was common for women of that time and culture.
–  She was present when Jesus died. As it was dangerous for anyone to be known to associate with a political criminal, she was risking death by stoning, as were the other women present.
–  She was first to witness the risen Christ.
–  Jesus commissioned her as apostle when he said “go and tell the others.”  While the Samaritan woman at the well went out and told people that Jesus was the messiah, it was Mary Magdalene who was first witness to the event that was the actual genesis of the Christian church: The Resurrection.
–  She obviously loved Jesus deeply, and was a trusted disciple, companion and friend.

MM_Antiveduto Gramatica

by Antiveduto Gramatica.

Oh, and she wasn’t a prostitute.  Hollywood loves to cast her as such, and artists often depict her as a penitent sinner.  (And often as a blonde.  Hello?) Well, we all sin.  We all “miss the mark,” and if you hang out with Jesus, then or now, you get to where you want to be like Christ, and when you goof, you’re truly sorry for your screwups. You want forgiveness, and there is joy in knowing that you are forgiven and loved.

Mary Magdalene was a friend, a confidante, a disciple, and someone who helped to empower the ministry.  As one of Jesus’ most faithful disciples, she has been inspiration for Women at the Well.  She has also inspired me to read more, look deeper, and to wonder.

MM by Pietro Perugino 1500

St. Mary Magdalene by Pietro Perugino

I recently discovered an amazing group of women in my area who meet weekly for prayer,  meditation, and learning.  My finding them (or their finding me) was true synchronicity.  I met Lyn at a retreat at the Red Shoes in Baton Rouge.  After finding we were both from the same area, she invited me to the weekly gatherings of the Sacred Circle at her home.  I gladly and joyfully accepted.

We met last week to celebrate Mary Magdalene, and Lyn asked me if I had a song from Women at the Well or otherwise that was appropriate.  I did.  It was a song that came out of my wondering what this close friend to Jesus might have felt when he went to Gesthemane to pray.  Did she have a feeling that something bad was going to happen there?  Was her intuition on fire, screaming “don’t go!” Did she share that with him?  This is a song about her own struggle with letting him go, and here are the lyrics:

Why this talk of going, why this talk about your death?  
No matter where you are I’ll love you ‘til my parting breath.
you know they’re coming, steal away tonight
know how we love you, don’t leave without a fight
There was joy in the city, now hate is being bred
there’s talk in the streets how they want you dead,
you have blessed us, you are God’s true light
But how will you save us when you must take flight?

Run from the garden gates, run from the garden gates; run from the garden…

You walk in the garden, you leave us behind
you go with your companions–are you looking for a sign?
Watch out for the soldiers, they could find you there
Something’s telling me that betrayal’s in the air…
Why are they so fearful of the things you’ve done?
Is it really here– has the nightmare begun?
They don’t believe that you are God’s true light
I beg you, save yourself, that I may walk with you tonight–

Run from the garden gates, run from the garden gates; run from the garden…

    You’re all alone, I feel your fear
    You will not run yet I need you here
    There’s something there – greater than my love
    that’s pulling you, that’s tearing you, that’s tearing me.

Why must you be going? why must you die now?
You say there’s a reason, I can’t see how–
I fear they are coming, to take you tonight
I know of your grief yet you’ll go without fight
A lamb led to the slaughter– I do not understand
And still  you tell me trust it’s God’s hand
I look at your face and see God’s true light
As you walk into terror and face it in spite

    of the sorrow ahead, the passion and pain
    a criminal’s death, and what is the gain?
    You say to have faith that on the 3rd morn
    it all will be clear your new life will be born

I’ll stand by the garden gates, Stand by the garden gates
Wait by the garden…
I’ll stand by the garden gates, stand by the garden gates
Wait by the garden…Gesthemane.         from Women at the Well ~© Brenda D. Lowry          

 

What does a true friend do?  In the end, she realized that Jesus was called to do what he had to do – and then sings that she will stand by him, no matter what.

One group member told me later that she thought of the wives of the police officers who were recently killed in Dallas.  Did any of them have an inkling of what was to happen that day?   We thought of the spouses, families and friends of those who serve as first responders, and of those who serve our country in the armed forces.  Anything can happen, and yet these people “stand by the garden gate” while someone they love does what they are called to do.

Love means putting another’s needs before your own. Mary Magdalene put Jesus’ call before her own fears and stood by, lending her strength with her love and belief in him.  Celebrate her feast day – today, July 22 – by supporting someone you love in their call.

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