Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The feast of Mary Magdalene

In the midst of this discussion of newfangled saints, I am brought back to the very beginning on this, the feast day of Mary Magdalene, the very first person to see the risen Lord.

So many wonderful things in her story of finding Jesus. That angels ask her, "Woman, why are you weeping?" and that doesn't seem to strike her as odd. That she recognizes Jesus when he calls her by name.

And the weeping, of course, pejoratively named as "maudlin" in spite of her eminently appropriate behavior by the tomb. What is it about weeping when we are sad that embarrasses people so? Too much feeling, I suspect. Weeping lets other people in in a way that other strong feelings do not. Weeping makes a person vulnerable.

I don't know, honestly, what it is. I do know that I'm mad we have linguistically put Mary Magdalene down for crying in her grief. As we have all memorized, Jesus wept, too. Nobody called him maudlin.

1 comment:

qoe said...

There is so much to say about this Mary! She has so much significance throughout scripture and aprocrypha that even the Roman church's unsupportable insinuation (until the 1960s) that she was a prostitute could not erase her importance.

I am not so much amazed that she was the first person to see the risen Jesus--this seems too natural for words.

No, what amazes me is that this Mary has enough personal power (faith) to make some of the male apostles extremely nervous about her. The traces of nervousness are all too apparent, both in canonical writings and apocrypha.

Mary did not have to roar like a lion to be powerful, but instead to weep with deep emotion, to be penitent, to be watchful, to listen, to witness, to repeat the truth, and, of course, to serve others (in life and in death), and above all be PRESENT in the knowledge of Christ, despite the men and their odd, uncomfortable reactions to her particular apostleship.