As I turned on my computer this morning, I found this quote in my e-mail (an ad for a program that I was about to delete).
Love can make up for a great many things that are missing in your life. But, if you don’t have love, no matter what else you have, it is never enough.
Today we celebrate the feast of Saint Mary Magdalene, a woman much maligned in history and the Christian Scriptures. Happily, in the last century, as theologians and Scripture scholars began to examine all the references to “Mary” in the gospels, they found a conflation of what could be a number of women – including the “woman at the well” that was never named! What we have come to understand, because of what is said in the Scriptures, is that Mary was one of the women that stayed through the horrible events of the crucifixion and death of Christ, stayed at his tomb when all the others (except “the other Mary”) were gone, and returned to anoint his body on the third day to find him disappeared. The beautiful story in John’s gospel of the encounter of Mary with the risen Jesus, when she recognized him as he said her name, solidified her role as “apostle to the apostles” because she was the first to see him after the resurrection and Jesus told her to relay the message to the others that he was alive.
There are many lessons to learn from the stories and “rehabilitation” of Mary Magdalene’s reputation, the most prominent perhaps being not to judge others but rather to take the time to get all the facts (as much as it is possible) to be sure we have the story right. This morning though – with the above quote as my motivation – I choose the lesson of steadfast love. Mary was – for probably many reasons – devoted to Jesus, as it appears he was devoted to her. She was courageous in that loving, enough to stay with him when the courage of others, even his closest companions, failed. She was willing to give the message of his resurrection to the others, even knowing how inconceivable such news would be. And many did not believe her. I am grateful – for her sake and ours – that she has finally been afforded her rightful place in the Christian story so that love is the center point of our remembrance and gratitude for her example something we celebrate on this, her feast.