Mary Magdalene

By Trevino, via Flickr, Creative Commons license

I’m fascinated by Mary Magdalene, and I don’t want her feast day to pass by without posting.  Over the past five years or so, I’ve read quite a few books about her, always in search of answers to impossible questions. Who was she, really?  Was she the spouse of Jesus or not?  Is she the same person as Mary of Bethany, and did she anoint Jesus?   I’m resigned to never having answers, but deeper meaning has become clearer.  In The Mary Magdalene Cover-Up: The Sources behind the Myth, scholar Esther de Boer analyzes many early Christian texts and tries to portray her in the most historically reliable manner possible.  While a bit abstract, the portrait that emerges depicts a woman dedicated to Jesus until the end. She committed herself to his message and proclaimed it to others.  She encountered resistance but persevered and gained disciples to the extent that a gospel was written under her name.   In this, Mary Magdalene provides a model of what de Boer calls “inner steadfastness.”  She says, “With this Mary Magdalene sin and penitence are not central, but the confusion of the world and the liberation from this confusion that the Saviour [sic] makes possible . . . What is central is not belief in dogmas but the inner will to seek to find and to follow the Lord.”  [emphasis added]  Mary Magdalene’s example provides a spiritual true north in a confusing time in the Church, especially for women.  She focuses our attention where it belongs, on Jesus, and gives us courage to keep listening for the Spirit within.

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