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Archive for January 9th, 2023


John 20: God’s Yardstick – Mary of Magdala

Andrea Solario or Bernardino Luini: Mary Magdalene

Andrea Solario or Bernardino Luini: Mary Magdalene (The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore, MD)

Absolute Fidelity

Monday, January 9, 2023

In these opening days of a new year, we look for ways to better see God’s yardstick in our lives, and for ways to leave the world’s yardstick behind.

There are many places to explore the story of Mary Magdalene but perhaps we need only look at one – her response to the death and resurrection of Jesus. Surely her fidelity and openness to Christ’s healing presence are models we might follow.

Much has been written of this woman and we can guess that nearly all is conjecture. We began our exploration of women who serve as God’s measuring stick with Mary the mother of Jesus. Today we close this portion of our reflections with the other most significant woman in Jesus’ life. This must be admitted even if we believe that the Magdalene was a reformed prostitute or had recovered from epilepsy by Jesus’ healing hand. Whether we believe she was a camp-follower, a friend, a companion or a spouse, we need only to read John’s account of the resurrection story to understand that her devotion to Jesus governed her life.

Van der Weyden: The Deposition of Christ or Desxcent from the Cross (The Pradoi Museum, Madrid, Spain)

Van der Weyden: The Deposition of Christ or Descent from the Cross (The Prado Museum, Madrid, Spain) Mary Magdalene to the far right

On the day following Shabbat she returns to the tomb to embalm Jesus’ body, braving any punishment she might experience at Roman or Jewish hands. Her reward is an encounter she did not expect. The Magdalene does not hold this good news to herself; rather, she runs to tell the others that Christ is still among them and is waiting to meet them in Galilee. She also runs to tell us that Christ is with us and is waiting within our own broken hearts. Just as Mary the Mother brings the presence of God into the world, so do does Mary of Magdala bring his story to us. It is for this reason alone that we easily look to her life as a persistent, enduring, loving measure of God’s love.


For Smithsonian articles that uncover the mystery of The Magdalene and the places Jesus lived and worked and prayed, visit: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/who-was-mary-magdalene-119565482/?no-ist or http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/unearthing-world-jesus-180957515/ Use the Smithsonian site to search for more information about these people and places.

For information about each of these paintings, their provenance, the artists and the symbolism, click on the images or visit: http://hubpages.com/art/Rogier-Van-Der-Weyden-Descent-From-The-Cross and http://art.thewalters.org/detail/37520/mary-magdalen/ 

For more reflections on Mary Magdalene, enter her name into the blog search bar and explore.

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