Friday, July 22, 2011

2011.07.22 Another Amazing Holy Woman

Today is our Episcopal calendar day to wear Easter white, feast, and hallow St. Mary Magdalene.

Mary of Magdala, a town near Capernaum, was very close to Jesus.

In her day it would have been unusual for a single woman to hit the road like that. But that’s the kind of trust Jesus inspired and the kind of risks people took to catch a portion of his spirit.

In Mary’s case there was also gratitude. Luke reports (8:1-2) that Mary and some other women had been healed of infirmities and evil spirits, “Mary, called Magdalene from whom seven demons had gone out...”

Seven was/is considered a mystical number, whole in itself and indivisible except by itself, like Godde. Seven means Scripture is saying something important about this woman. People have speculated about her “demons.” I wrote about multiple personality disorder; others have conjured addictions and incurable seizures. On and on.

We interpret things according to our context. Today's context is nothing if it's not psychopathologistic. (What a word!) Mary's culture was about exorcism and demons.

But the favored conjure has been that she was a wanton woman, bound by her shameless sexual behavior— a prostitute, seductress, temptress and, god forbid, the undoer of men.

Luke wrote none of that, though we are to know that her life was radically transformed in many ways by Jesus and she stayed steadfast to his end, was a witness at the crucifixion, and wept at his mysteriously empty tomb. She mourned so deeply she almost missed meeting the image of Christ resurrected who spoke her name and commissioned her to tell the good news to the others.

If you identify with Mary and make her your biblical prayer partner try this spiritual practice: list seven “demons” of your own and ask Jesus to heal you. Be sure to say exactly what YOU want........ then leave the results up to Christ.

Also . . . suggest to your parish church that they transfer Mary Magdalene’s feast day, July 22, to a Sunday so the whole congregation can remember her, hallow her closeness to Jesus, and bless her role as the first apostle of resurrection.