Today is the actual feast of Mary Magdalene”…the contributions of this woman to the ministry of Jesus, her fidelity during his crucifixion, and her leadership as first apostolic witness to the resurrection place her in a pivotal role at the foundation of ekklesia. Yet, centuries of patriarchal construal in literature, art and preaching have depicted Magdalene as a repentant sinner, most likely a prostitute, forgiven by Jesus for sins of a sexual nature. There is an ethical issue here, for the distortion that shifts the story of a leading apostolic woman to someone remembered mainly as a sexual transgressor is a deep untruth…Taken together, the biblical texts and their trajectory in later gnostic literature carry the memory of Mary Magdalene as a powerfully faithful disciple of Jesus and courageous witness to his life and destiny, a founding church mother, wise woman, revealer and teacher, an interpreter of Jesus’ message in the early church, a woman friend of God. Early on she is honored with the moniker “apostle to the apostles” for the strength of her witnessing word…”
Friends of God and Prophets by Elizabeth Johnson, CSJ
Help me to seek and witness to truth.
Read the section on Mary Magdalene in Friends of God and Prophets. Do some research on how the roles of women are not mentioned or are distorted in scripture and historical texts.
Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”
“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.”She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).
Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”
Mary Magdalene came, announcing to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord,” and that He had said these things to her.
She is a role model for women’s apostleship, leadership, courage, fidelity, power – and just the most extraordinarily important role that you would never have thought 25 years ago that she would have had.”
Mary Magdalene is a representative and symbolic person, who has been part of the tradition since the very beginning. It’s like having a photograph in which one of the major images has been airbrushed out and now we’re seeing that the image has been there from the beginning, and belongs as part of the tradition we know.
The feminine spirit is rising deep in the heart of creation, to heal our battered world and bring new life.
Mary Southard, CSJ
It is Mary Magdalene, the evangelist John details, to whom Jesus first appears after the resurrection. It is Mary Magdalene who is instructed to proclaim the Easter message to the others. It is Mary Magdalene whom Jesus commissions to “tell Peter and the others that I have gone before them into Galilee.”And, then, the scripture says pathetically, “But Peter and John and the others did not believe her and they went to the tomb to see for themselves.” It is two thousand years later and little or nothing has changed. The voice of women proclaiming the presence of Christ goes largely unconfirmed. The call of women to minister goes largely unnoted. The commission of women to the church goes largely disdained. Mary Magdalene is, no doubt about it, an important icon for the twenty-first century.
Joan Chittister, OSB
From Mary Magdalene to Waldensian women, Ursuline nuns, Moravian wives, Quaker sisters, Black women preachers, and suffragette activists, history shows us that women do not wait on the approval of men to do the work of God.
Beth Allison Bar