Easter, Mary Magdalene and Womanhood by Virginia Harris, CSB

 

This is what is meant by seeking Truth, Christ, not ‘for the loaves and fishes,’ nor, like the Pharisee, with the arrogance of rank and display of scholarship, but like Mary Magdalene, from the summit of devout consecration, with the oil of gladness and the perfume of gratitude, with tears of repentance and with all those hairs all numbered by the father.

Mary Baker Eddy

(Science and Health 367:10)

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Easter and Womanhood

It is striking to me how often in the New Testament a woman is the one anointed for the holy task of bearing witness to the Christ-presence. The one to confirm that the Christ is come to a dark and waiting world.

The gospel of Luke describes an angel telling the virgin Mary that she is pregnant with a son, the Son of God – not by man, but by the will of God. And Mary, proving her worthiness for this holiest of responsibilities, humbly accepts: “…be it unto me according to thy word.”

No one in the entire world knew what she now knew. That is, until she visited her cousin Elisabeth who was also pregnant (with her son John) at the behest of God alone. The moment Mary walked into her cousin’s home, Elisabeth knew what was to come: “Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.” Now, there were two women who knew the “human herald of Christ” was coming to redeem and regenerate humanity!

And so it proved to be. During Jesus’ healing ministry many believed and followed – but many did not. A lone woman of Samaria (John 4) happened upon Jesus at the village well. She offered water – he offered a teaching moment about the meaning of living water and everlasting life. Who could teach the lesson of everlasting life? She soon recognized that this man was the promised Christ! Then she rushed to confidently tell the men in her village, “…is not this the Christ?” And they believed her: “…many of the Samaritans of that city believed on him for the saying of the woman…”

From inception throughout the earthly career of Jesus, his life and healing work was all about teaching his most important lesson: that the divinely-created life is all in and of Spirit, not matter, and this spiritual fact makes life everlasting and inseparable from Spirit, God.

The paramount illustration of this grand life lesson is the account of the Easter resurrection (John 20). And again, a woman has the holy charge of bearing witness to the world – and for all time – that Jesus did not die, but had risen to prove to the world that mutilated flesh cannot contain everlasting divine life!

Mary Magdalene, the most devoted of the disciples, visited the tomb where Jesus’ body had been laid. She sees the stone rolled away and the body gone. Shocked, she runs to get Peter and John to see this. No one can explain what has happened. Peter and John, not knowing what to do, leave Mary alone at the sepulchre. Grief-stricken, she turns away from the tomb to see a man. She thinks he is the gardener…he calls to her, “Mary.”

Oh! Can you imagine the feeling! So far beyond mere “relief,” this was absolute confirmation of the most important lesson of all that Jesus taught his disciples! There is no life or substance in matter…life is Spirit, inseparable from God, immortal and eternal.

What love Jesus had for Mary to anoint her as the first witness. And what selfless, unconditional love for the divine Truth that she had – and he recognized. Jesus knew she would faithfully bear it to and for all humanity.

These strong and courageous women are models of true discipleship for all of us today. In selfless humility, they discerned and embraced the holy purpose, then shared it for the benefit of all mankind. What are we to do to follow in their footsteps of faithful discipleship?

Can we commit our lives to a daily spiritual practice of healing? Each of us can begin with humble steps of true goodness, kindness, and genuine love for our family, friends, neighbors. Most importantly, we must strive each day to rise above the assumed limitations of matter with its false perceptions and theories. Elisabeth, Mary, and Mary Magdalene gave proof. Without hesitation, the Samaritan woman spread the word!

Mary Baker Eddy wrote of Mary Magdalene in a manuscript about the blessing of womanhood for the wholehood of humanity:

“…woman is not least because last at the cross and first at the sepulchre – the last to linger in tender ministrations of love, and the first to discern the Christ idea, – the life that is everlasting, that knows no pain, no death, no severance from Love, – that burst the tomb victorious over the grave, sin, disease, and death.” (Mary Baker Eddy Library for the Betterment of Humanity, document A10142B)

  • Photo by Virginia Harris, CSB

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