Reflections: July 22, 2021
St. Mary Magdalene
By Harrison Goodman
Jesus said to her, "Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'" (John 20:17)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Part of me wants to focus on Mary's announcement. She gets to tell the disciples the good news. Christ is risen! It feels like a redemption story. From the often-assumed belief that she was the prostitute who worshipped at Jesus' feet (that woman isn't named in the Bible), to fiction about her marital status (not in the Bible at all), to her confusion of the risen Lord with a gardener (that one's in there), Mary Magdalene gets a lot of the focus, but rarely in a good way. We want her to turn her life around, and then share the good news.
The truth is, we don't know the name of the prostitute who worshipped at Jesus' feet. A pope named Gregory the Great decided that it was this Mary. We know Jesus wasn't married. Fiction writers have decided otherwise. So much of what we want to believe about Mary Magdalene has to do with what people assume she did. Most of it is wrong. All of it misses the point. Jesus doesn't know her by her deeds or her past, but by her faith. He says something to her. "I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God." She has the same Father as the Son of God does.
If you want to know who Mary Magdalene was, set aside myth and hold to the Word of God. She is a daughter of the Father. She is a saint by faith in Christ. It's true for you, too. You are not known by what people say about you, true or not. You are not known by your past. You are known by the same thing Mary is known by: your identity is a child of God. You have the same Father as Jesus and Mary. You are baptized. In this water, you are united with Christ just like Mary. You are an heir to the kingdom of heaven. You are so precious to the Son that He who redeemed you from sin and death only talks about you as His brother or sister. People talk. Most of them get it wrong. Christ is still risen. You are still baptized. You have a Father in heaven. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
We sing Your praise for Mary, Who came at Easter dawn To look for Jesus' body And found her Lord was gone. But, as with joy she saw Him In resurrection light, May we by faith behold Him, The Day who ends our night! ("For All the Faithful Women" LSB 855, st.11)
-Rev. Harrison Goodman is the pastor of Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church in San Antonio, TX.
He is also the content executive for Higher Things.
He is also the content executive for Higher Things.
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