“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Matthew 13
.Today we commemorate the feast of St. Mary of Magdalene, companion of Jesus and the apostles to the apostles. The faith of Mary Magdalene, as portrayed in the Gospels, is one of utmost certitude. She was unfaltering in her trust in the Word and promise of Jesus. She was one of the few of Jesus’ followers at the cross, remaining true. In Matthew’s Gospel she stands vigil, waiting to see the promised resurrection with her own eyes. She is the only witness at the tomb of Jesus mentioned in all four Gospels. Because of her great faith and faithfulness, Jesus appears to her and commissions her to go and tell the disciples.
St. Mary Magdalene is the model of christian faith, staying true to God’s Word equally in both troubled times and good times. Unlike her male compatriots who regularly misunderstand Jesus’ teaching, desert Jesus in his time of need and doubt his word until they themselves witness the resurrected Christ, Mary remains true.
Her favored status expressed in the Gospels quickly comes under attack in the early Church as women were increasingly sidelined by the male dominated hierarchy of the Church. Mary goes through a sort of character assassination. Soon she is conflated with several other female characters in the Gospel and by the 6th century she goes from a woman cured of demons to having been a reformed prostitute. More recent scholarship by Elizabeth Schrader, has showed evidence that she was edited out of some sections of the Gospel of John. The oldest manuscripts show that Mary Magdalene is Lazarus’ sister. While later manuscripts turn her into two women, Mary and Martha.
So what do we learn from Mary, if not the very essence of being a faithful follower of our Lord. She trusts in the promise, supported the ministry of Christ financially and physically, and she treasures the Word of God in her soul. Hers is a faith of action and service. She embodies a faith that sees God’s hidden work even in the most difficult of times, a faith that keeps an eye on the promise of hope and resurrection when the world is falling around us. She is a saint for our own day.
More recently Mary Magdalene’s reputation has been restored, with the western Church raising her day of memory to a feast day on par with the other apostles. Rightfully so.
Elizabeth Schrader the biblical scholar is also Libbie Schrader the song writer. Below is a song she wrote about Mary Magdalene.