Over the past few weeks, we’ve looked at some women who are, on the surface ‘ordinary’. They are simply women who were going about their daily lives when God stepped in and transformed them. They responded to the needs of the world around them and made a difference in social justice, in nursing, and in standing against oppression. Last week we saw that even a woman who might not have actually lived can inspire us to make changes and stand up for what is right.
This week, we come to a rather misunderstood woman. Mary of Magdala. I’ve written about Mary several times on this blog over the years. She is a fascinating woman, even though there is not a lot concrete known about her.
Although blackened by Pope Gregory as a prostitute, there is no evidence of that in the Biblical record. A more likely scenario is that she was a woman of some wealth from the town of Magdala on the Sea of Galilee. We know that Jesus cast out 7 ‘demons’ from her. Whether this was some sort of massive possession or a way of explaining a dramatic healing of insecurities and fears that kept Mary enslaved, is not clear.
In any event, Mary became one of the women who followed and ministered to Jesus ‘from their wealth’. The women were the fearless ones who stood at the foot of the cross and went to the grave after the Sabbath to complete the anointing of the body. Consequently, Mary was the one who first met the Risen Lord and to whom was given the directive ‘go and tell my brothers’.
It is said that after the Resurrection she continued her evangelism, even to the Imperial Court. Far from being a behind the scenes operator, Mary was called to be part of the action. She was not afraid to tell her story. Mary invites us to be activeparticipants in our world, to look and see God everywhere.
Mary reminds us that Jesus can cast out our demons of insecurity, fear, the past, and whatever else can trouble us. God is for us at all times.
As you enter into the world of Mary, you might do this exercise from 2015 using images to see which way you see her. This one of Mary turning to see who has called her name is one of my favorites.
Then take a minute to consider what pictures you might use to represent yourself. Maybe a butterfly or an eagle. Perhaps, like me, a turtle is your 'totem' animal, reflecting the need for security. Lately, however, a hawk has taken up residence in a nearby tree and I see her as symbolic of strength and resilience.
What images of yourself do you have? Do these images truly reflect how God sees you?Can you start to see yourself like God does-as God’s own beloved?