by Sue Crawford

Mary Magdalene was there.

Ever since I wrote an article for the Niagara Anglican’s Lenten studies on Women of the Bible, I have felt much more needed to be written about the woman I chose—Mary Magdalene.

Space was limited then, but as that article pointed out, she was one of Jesus’ followers. It is not clear where she first met Jesus, but it is thought that he may have cast out the demons she had in her. (Luke 8:2)

In the gospels, she is always referred to as Mary Magdalene.
There is no known date of her birth or death, only where she was from – Magdala, Judea on the western shore of Galilee Sea. Several places are listed where she may have died – Saint Maximin-la-Sainte Baume, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, France, Ephesus, Asia Minor.

She is venerated in the Eastern Orthodox Church, Catholic Church, Anglican Communion, Lutheranism, Bahá’í faith and other Protestant churches. Her feast day is July 22. Some Protestant churches honour her as a heroine of faith. The Eastern Orthodox churches commemorate her on the Sunday of Myrrh Bearers.

The gospellers have her with Jesus on many occasions. She witnesses the crucifixion (Matthew 27:56, Mark 15:40, John 19:25). She brings spices to the tomb after his death, alone or with other women (Matthew 28:1, Mark 16:1, Luke 24:1, John 20:1). She was the first to affirm Jesus’ resurrection (John 20:1). She, alone or with other women, tells the apostles the tomb is empty (Matthew 28:8, Mark 16:8, Luke 24:10, John 20:2). She is reported to have been the first to see Jesus after his resurrection (Matthew 28:9, Mark 16:9, John 20:14).

Such dedication by an apostle is only equalled by perhaps Peter (despite his denials). She is mentioned at least 12 times in the gospels, which is more than most apostles. Whether or not she was a repentant prostitute as some musical productions and movie versions of Jesus’ life have characterized her, there is nothing written in the gospels proving this. Since she is neither referred to as the mother of or wife of someone, it is believed or presumed she was not married or had children. She was in charge of her own resources, a prominent woman in her community and very visible. Not once in any biblical passage have I read that Mary Magdalene looked for praise, fame or remuneration for what she did.

Mary Magdalene was there.

I feel Mary Magdalene is still among us. She may be in the form of a man, woman or child.

She is the person who brings refreshments when needed in the parish or makes cookies for the shut-ins. She is the person who comforts the sick, visiting or sitting by them during chemo infusions. She is the person who arranges funeral receptions and helps clean up after events. She is the person always with a kind word, who takes time to stop and chat. She is the person who ensures our young people have a safe place to come after school. She is the person who comes forward when carpentry, plumbing or electrical work is needed. She is the ever-present volunteer in the nursing homes, Food Banks and other needy places. She is the person who steps forward when events need to be arranged and convened. She is always visible in the community, always there when there is a need and never asks for anything in return.

Who are the Mary Magdalenes in your parish?

Take a moment to thank them next time you see them.

Sue Crawford is a member of St. Michael’s Hamilton.