Mary Magdalene’s love for Jesus shows what it means to have one person hold fast to us in our hour of need, despite the apparent hopelessness of it all. cac.org – RICHARD ROHR
This magnificent woman of the Jesus story has been horribly maligned over the centuries since the establishment of Christianity as the official religion of the Roman Empire in the 4th and 5th centuries. The male dominated Church chose to depict her as a sinner suffering seven demons within, healed by Jesus, then becoming a follower of the Jesus and the Way.
In 591 Pope Gregory I delivered a series of Easter messages blending Mary Magdalene with the “sinful woman” of Bethel who anoints the feet of Jesus with precious oil and then wipes his feet with her long hair. This led to the theory that Mary, the apostle, was a repentant prostitute.
Even more interesting is the theory that Mary was in reality the wife of Jesus as popularized in the book and movie the Da Vinci Code and that they possibly had a child. And why not? Considering how the Roman Church had bastardized the teachings of Jesus, why can’t we believe that a healthy, devout Jewish man in his early 30s would have a wife and family.
I’ll answer my own question – that would negate the basic foundation of the priesthood of the Roman Church – chastity and celibacy. It would also question the Church’s premise that men were superior to women in spiritual affairs thereby justifying that women should be relegated to submissive roles in family life.
I have digressed from the intent of this writing: one’s undying love for another. Have you ever loved another person so deeply and unconditionally that even in the greatest times of despair you refused to give in to hopelessness? In a family unit trying to navigate the despair and hopelessness of an alcoholic loved one, we hang on to faith and hope, don’t we? We pray, we plead, we beg, we threaten, we cry, we yell…and then we pray some more. Why? Because we still have hope in the face of hopelessness. That’s what our Higher Power gives us. The examples of undying love which we see around the tables of AA, the power of another’s comforting words, the personalities we read about in Scriptures all give us reason to go on for yet another day. We cannot allow despair and hopelessness into our lives.
Mary Magdalene was that kind of person. She loved her Jesus, stood by his side, wept at his cross, went with him to the tomb, guarded the tomb, and then arrived first at the tomb on the 3rd day to see it empty. Not quite understanding, even though Jesus had told them in numerous conversations that he would indeed resurrect, Mary thought the body had been taken away. Perhaps, briefly, at this moment she gave in to despair and hopelessness thinking the recipient of her undying love was forever lost:
“They have taken my Lord away and I don’t know where they have put him,” was her reply to the angels standing nearby who asked why she was crying.
The resurrection message from John 20:10-18 continues to tell us that her Lord was there all the time even when she did not recognize the presence. Mary Magdalene stood by her Jesus through the good times and the bad, through the trials of being a rebel, being an outcast from the Jewish hierarchy, being an insurrectionist in the eyes of the Romans, through the humiliation of his crucifixion, and finally through her perceived loss.
My loved ones were my Mary Magdalene through the difficulties, the heartbreaks, the disappointments, the betrayals, the lies, the drunkenness. Theirs was an undying love. Today, in sobriety, I hope to be the same to the ‘still suffering alcoholic’ who shares my life.
for my best friend, with love
So many of us have lived our lives placing unmerited value on the opinions of others while discrediting our personal truth and reality. Breaking the shackles of people-pleasing requires honest self-appraisal, a healthy dose of self-esteem, and an enormous commitment to self-realization.
….as near as the destination may be, it’s still the journey that matters….