FRIDAY, 22nd July 2011
Friday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Memorial of St Mary Magdalene
An excerpt from...
Mary Magdalene (original Greek Μαρία ἡ Μαγδαληνή, flourished 1st century AD) was one of Jesus' most celebrated disciples. She is famous because she is said to have been the first person to see Jesus after he rose from the dead, according to John 20 and Mark 16:9, part of the so-called "Longer Ending" to that chapter.
According to Luke 8:2 and Mark 16:9, Jesus cleansed her of "seven demons." Some contemporary scholars contend this concept means healing from illness, not forgiveness of sin. On the other hand, some major Christian saints, including St. Bede and St. Gregory, interpret the seven devils to signify that she was "full of all vices." Hence, on this interpretation, the episode does signify the forgiveness of sins. Mary Magdalene is the leader of a group of female disciples believed to have been present at the cross after the male disciples (excepting John the Beloved) had fled, and at his burial. Mary was a devoted follower of Jesus, entering into the close circle of those taught by Jesus during his Galilean ministry. She became prominent during the last days, accompanying Jesus during his travels and following him to the end.
Mary Magdalene is referred to in early Christian writings as "the apostle to the apostles." In apocryphal texts, she is portrayed as a visionary and leader of the early movement, who was loved by Jesus more than the other disciples. Several Gnostic gospels, such as the Gospel of Mary, written in the early 2nd century, see Mary as the special disciple of Jesus who has a deeper understanding of his teachings and is asked to impart this to the other disciples.
Mary Magdalene is considered by the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Anglican, and Lutheran churches to be a saint, with a feast day of July 22. The Eastern Orthodox churches also commemorate her on the Sunday of the Myrrhbearers which is the second Sunday after Pascha (Easter). She is also an important figure in the Bahá'í Faith.