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Apostle to the Apostles

2009 July 23
by Gordon Reid

imagesI said the Mass of St Mary Magdalene this morning and was very conscious that the English Missal concentrates on the sinful woman who anointed our Lord’s feet and identifies her with the sister of Martha and Lazarus. There is not a word about the Mary Magdalene who stood by the Cross, went to the Sepulchre and was the first to bear witness to the Resurrection.

My own scriptural studies have convinced me that in fact the Church has conflated three separate women under the title of Mary Magdalene.  If this is so, I suppose that all three of them must now be friends in the heavenly places, and presumably they have made arrangements to function as a prayer-answering committee! It may explain why so many people are devoted to Mary Magdalene: you will have three wonderful women on your side when they pass on your prayer!

If I am wrong, and all three women are indeed the same person, what a wonderful mixture she is: a despised woman who loved Jesus enough to anoint and kiss his feet in spite of the cold righteousness of the Pharisee; a woman so “possessed”, so dotty or wild, that it was said Jesus had driven seven devils out of her; the peaceful sister of Martha and Lazarus, who was much too busy hanging on Jesus’s words to help her sister prepare the dinner; the brave woman who stood with Our Lady and others at the Cross; and finally the persistent woman who went to look after the body of Jesus and was rewarded by being the first witness of his Resurrection. If she is indeed all of these, all one can say is “Wow”. And even if there are three of them, what great company they will be in one of the many mansions of Heaven!

2 Responses leave one →
  1. Nathaniel permalink
    July 23, 2009

    Yes, the collects in “The English Office” (the Prayer Book offices with Catholic bells on) yesterday were not very good. Either confusing her with Mary, sister of Lazarus, or meditate on her especially sinful nature (the “not wanting to sin, but if we sin, let us repent like Mary Magdalene”). Are those taken from the Missal?

  2. July 23, 2009

    These words are not in the Missal, but the confusion is there.

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