Mary Magdalene

We first meet Mary Magdalene as a supporter of Jesus among a group of quite wealthy women. She is identified as coming from the village of Magdala and that she was healed from demons which may mean severe epilepsy or some other mental illness. She obviously became a devoted follower of Jesus.

She was a witness to his crucifixion, and to his burial.

And of course, in John’s gospel we have that beautiful story that she was the first to see the resurrected Jesus who called her by name, (John 20)


I had no idea how she came to have such a tarnished reputation, but it seems that in 591 a Pope identified her with the woman of ill repute who anointed Jesus’ feet, and got her mixed up with Mary of Bethany. So, for centuries she was regarded both as a fallen woman. and a heroine no less, who was the first to take the message of Jesus resurrection to the apostles. And her remains turn up and are venerated in various places around the Western Mediterranean.

In 1969 the Pope refuted that “fallen” reputation. However, in films and novels she is still portrayed as a rather sensational character

Nevertheless, from the gospels she is a very faithful disciple, who uses her resources to support and encourage Jesus. Who knows if she had been a man Jesus might have chosen her for one of the twelve? If he had not been called by God to be our Saviour, he might have wanted to marry her. Yet supporting roles in God’s plans have always been vitally important. Paul gives a list of spiritual gifts, but as my husband used to say, he doesn’t include the drain cleaners and the people who make the coffee. These being among all the other services essential to the wellbeing of God’s church today.

So, let’s celebrate her as the faithful disciple she was and use what resources we have to support the Christ’s ministry today in whatever way is appropriate for us.

[Janet Lawrence]