Sunday, July 17, 2005

Monday, July 18

This post is linked to The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime, pp. 252-254. [The online form is not in sync with my book.]

Mary of Magdala (Magdalene) is the focus of the Church's memory this week. In the Gospels, Mary is defined by her location (from Magdala) not by her family, as it would be had she been, say, Mary daughter of Reuben. Her story is an interesting one: she was released from seven demons and was a constant traveling companion of Jesus. She was one of the few (Mel Gibson's movie elaborates too much here) at the Cross and she sees where they placed the body of Jesus.

When she finds that Jesus' body is gone on Eastern Morning, she weeps. Why? Because, and here we are guessing somewhat but the guessing is consistent on this point in the Church, the One who gave her an identity was dead and gone.

She's got nowhere to go. She's utterly alone. She's an abandoned, stranded woman who had placed her hope and future in the hands of the Galilean.

But, as you know, the story does not end with Mary weeping: she sees Jesus! There is hope that fellowship will follow abandonment.

Jesus dispenses her with the commission to tell the disciples that he has been raised. She is the first witness to the resurrection, and one can easily say that the Christian faith rests upon the word of Mary to the others -- not that other appearances didn't take place.

But, still, Mary is the first to announce to the community of faith that Jesus was alive again.

There is no end of surprises in the Bible, but surely the most "common surprise" -- so common it doesn't even surprise us anymore -- is that God takes ordinary people and gives them the gift of witness to his marvelous works.

How about us, How ordinary are we and how often do we get to testify to God's great things?