Saturday, April 02, 2016

What Are We To Do With These Men?

“What are we to do with these men? Everyone living in Jerusalem knows that a remarkable sign was done through them, and we cannot deny it. But so that it may not be spread any further among the people, let us give them a stern warning never again to speak to anyone in this name.”  Acts 4:16-17

When Jesus had risen, early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons. She went and told his companions who were mourning and weeping. When they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they did not believe.  Mark 16:9-11

Jesus, give us the courage of Mary of Magdala to visit you in the tomb.  Give us
Image Credit: “Resurrection” by He Qi.
the fortitude of Mary to endure the sight of the empty tomb.  Give us the joy of Mary to witness you in the world.  And give us the hope of Mary to share that Good News with others.

Christianity all boils down to the Resurrection. Twenty centuries of Christianity—and the faith of billions—rest on this singular event. The Resurrection could not occur without the Nativity.  The Resurrection could not occur without Good Friday.  But, our faith does not culminate in the Incarnation or Passion alone. 

And who is the primary witness to this momentous miracle, the first person to whom Jesus revealed himself?  Mary Magdalene is the first person to whom Jesus Christ appears after he is risen.  That makes her of immense importance to the church.  As Fr. James Martin has said in interviews, articles and books, at that very moment, she WAS the church.  She was the only person who knew about the resurrection for that hour or two until she spread the good news with the Apostles.  

Nothing would have happened without her first witness. Mary tried to pass that faith on to the men.  Even when she told them, they did not believe.  What are we to do with these men?  Why do they have such a prominent role while Mary all but disappears?

What happened to her?  She was there at all the key moments of Jesus’ public ministry, at the end of Jesus’ life and at the Resurrection. 

The gospel writers are specific in noting that Mary and a number of other women had followed Jesus from Galilee. The first mention of her is in Luke 8:2-3, so we know that she was with Jesus from the beginning of his ministry. The last mention is in John 20, where we find Jesus appearing to her at the empty tomb.  This means that Mary left home and all that she had to follow Jesus for most of his three year public ministry. [i]

Unlike other women in the Bible, Mary of Magdala is not identified in relation to another person; she is not anyone’s mother, wife, or sister. Instead, she is called Mary of Magdala, a title that implies some prominence in the city, a center of commercial fishing on the northwest bank of the Sea of Galilee. She left her home to follow Jesus, and it is believed she was among several well-off, independent women who financially supported Jesus’ ministry.  These female followers of Jesus—disciples, really—became central when everything started to fall apart. While others fled, the women were faithful, and they were led by Mary of Magdala.[ii]
Flickr photo cc by GlasgowAmateur

Several early church writers portray her as a leader in the early church movement.  St. Thomas Aquinas reserved the special title, “Apostle of the Apostles” (apostolorum apostola), dedicating to [Mary Magdalene] this beautiful comment: ‘Just as a woman had announced the words of death to the first man, so also a woman was the first to announce to the Apostles the words of life’.[iii]

Think of the women in your life who have been the Church to you?  Your wife?  Mother?  Sister? Teacher?  Think of them and thank them.

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