Bishop Pete Broadbent
Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples “I have seen the Lord!” and she told them that he had said these things to her. (John 20:18)
Mary Magdalene – whose Saints Day it was last week – has historically been given a bit of a bad press by the Church. A rather over-enthusiastic sermon from Pope Gregory conflated her memory with that of other women in the Gospel narratives, so that she’s often remembered (wrongly) as a prostitute and a promiscuous person.
So, let’s rescue her from a bad rap and give her instead a round of applause as (what she’s often called) “the apostle to the apostles”. She was the one who was the first witness to the resurrection – seeing both the empty tomb and the risen Lord – and came and told the disciples. She bore testimony, even though she was frightened, and, as a woman, might not have been believed.
She was the ordinary woman from Magdala, the fishing village on the west side of Galilee out of whom Jesus had cast seven demons. But despite the mental instability and psychological trauma that she had suffered, she was committed to Jesus, and foremost among the group of woman who travelled round with him on his preaching and healing tour (see Luke 8:1-3).
She was one who, with others, helped provide for the material needs of Jesus and his disciples – she obviously had a bob or two – and used it wisely!
She was one who is specifically named as being present at the cross when Jesus died (Matt. 27:56). When most of the apostles had fled, she was there to the end.
She was at the tomb on Easter Sunday, ready to anoint Jesus’ body. Instead, she became caught up in the greatest news ever told – and became the bearer of that news: “I have seen the Lord!”
In lockdown and beyond, whatever your mental state, know yourself to be loved by Jesus who was able to reinstate and work though Mary Magdalene in her frailty. Know yourself to be – as all Christians are called to be – one whose life, words and actions speak of the risen Jesus, who has transformed us and wants to transform the world.
whose Son restored Mary Magdalene to health of mind and body
and called her to be a witness to his resurrection:
forgive our sins and heal us by your grace,
that we may serve you in the power of his risen life;
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Prayer Request: For those known to us struggling with their mental health; for them to experience healing and wholeness.