Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Mary Magdalene

 Mary questioned her Master, "At the end of the eon, will all matter be destroyed?"

 Jesus answered, "All of nature, its forms and creatures are interrelated; all will be returned to their original source.  The essence of matter also returns to the source of its own nature.  He who has ears, let him comprehend."  The opening lines of the Gospel of Mary Magdalene

Mary Magdalene was healed of 7 demons (Luke 8:2) and makes multiple cameo appearances in the four Gospels, often being found alongside or among Jesus' disciples.  In the 6th century, she got branded by a man who had never met her.  In a blistering sermon, Pope Gregory accused her of being a prostitute, and until recently, she has lived posthumously with that reputation. Thankfully for women-kind, modern research and feminist scholars are resurrecting her as "the beloved disciple" and a more central figure in Jesus' life and teaching. She is the only woman who has a gospel bearing her name - albeit one of the non-canonized Gnostic Gospels.

Mary Magdalene bears the weight of having brought an entirely different, more inclusive, more earth-centered spin on what Jesus was teaching, but found as a woman teacher in a patriarchal culture that she wasn't taken seriously.  Perhaps we see in Pope Gregory's public act of trashing Mary's reputation the threat Mary's inclusivity posed to patriarchal power structures. Or, was it Mary's esteemed position in the cadre of disciples of which he was jealous?

We have learned this much and are still trying to get the message heard; women do bring a different voice, another vantage point, and a far more relational view to theology and church than the majority of their male counterparts.  They always have. They probably always will. The cognitive, head-strong leadership served over the centuries as the only Christian theological option (including Crusades, Inquisitions, and heretic burning) is radically the opposite of the more Jesus-like stance many women bring with grace and intuition, care, listening, and community. 

If you haven't yet been exposed to this more multi-dimensional, honest, intelligent woman, I encourage you to seek out some of these sources:

Meggan Watterson, Mary Magdalene Revealed: The First Apostle, Her Feminist Gospel, and The Christianity We Haven't Tried Yet

Cynthia Bourgeault, The Meaning of Mary Magdalene: Discovering the Woman At The Heart of Christianity

Karen L. King, The Gospel of Mary Magdala: Jesus and the First Woman Apostle

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