violette

violette
Heart's ease - an infusion was said to help mend a broken heart

Friday, 22 July 2011

Definitely a woman of heart

There is a tradition of merging various Gospel women into one - Mary Magdalene, whose feast is today. Thus Mary of Bethany (sister of Martha and Lazarus), Mary of Magdala and the unnamed "woman with a bad name" all coalesce into one woman of dubious morals but steadfast love. She is presented as the archetypal tart with a heart, a fallen woman redeemed by pure love; invariably depicted wearing red, often with a wild, bright russet mane of hair.

But there is so much more to Mary Magdalene than her - alleged - sexual past! If we cast exegisis aside for a moment (apologies to any scripture scholars who may be reading this) and follow this tradition of merging Marys, then what we we have is a woman who is a burning furnace of love, totally committed to and focussed on Jesus. The woman who sat at Jesus's feet, drinking in his every word, is the same woman who stood at the foot of his cross, watching him die. And in both cases she was there, silent, focussed, because she couldn't have borne to be anywhere else. That passionate, blazing love with which she followed him in the good times came into its own during his passion and death.

She is a true role model for the contemplative life, not because she chose "the better part" when all was deliciously sunny and enjoyable, but because she chose it again when all was unbearably grim and dark and even just being near Jesus was dangerous. She chose it because, in a sense, there was no choice; her love was too strong, too total, for her to even consider being anywhere else. Her sole desire was to be with Jesus.

And so she was, and so she remained, and her huge love was rewarded with the overflowing glorious joy of the Resurrection.

Definitely a true woman of heart!

A few lines from Wordsworth's Prelude (1850) somehow capture something of this contemplative focus, this better part:

Rest, and be not alone, but have thou there
The One who is thy choice of all the world,
There linger, listening, gazing, with delight
Impassioned, but delight how pitiable!            
Unless this love by a still higher love
Be hallowed, love that breathes not without awe;
Love that adores, but on the knees of prayer,
By heaven inspired; that frees from chains the soul,
Lifted, in union with the purest, best,
Of earth-born passions, on the wings of praise
Bearing a tribute to the Almighty's Throne.

3 comments:

  1. Thank you. I can completely identify with Mary Magdalene. From the moment where she threw herself at His feet in desperation to the moment where He appeared to her at the tomb. Her transformation is so encouraging and inspiring; from a desperate woman in a mess to a beautiful example of God's love. The story of the two of them and how their relationship developed, how close they had become. It's not just a case of; we are forgiven, our dignity restored and that's that. He then offers us the opportunity to grow deeper and deeper in to an intimate and personal relationship with Him that is full of tenderness, gentleness, fun and beauty.

    No wonder Mary Magdalene wanted to live her entire life for Him. Who, after experiencing love like that, which is beyond our human understanding, totally personal and unique could ever be satisfied with living their life any other way? I know I couldn't and my journey is just beginning.

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  2. I too can totally identify with Mary of Magdala; she is so full of love for her Lord that she has no where else she can go. She is totally given to Him and loves Him with a passion that is burning and inspiring. I know that it's like to be seen as being in the wrong and to be put in a position where others look and judge. In those moments, I turn to Jesus and I say to Him; Lord all I have are my tears and my pain; I give them to You now and ask that You transform them with Your love. Sometimes when I meditate on the Gospels where Jesus is on the Cross, I know how much He loves me. Yes when things are going well, I know He loves me, of course I do. But when things are not going so well, that's when I learn how much. Who else is there? Who else when there is no one who really understands...
    He alone can show me who I truly am and give me back my dignity and tell me it's okay, you can stand and you can walk again; it's alright, I am here...
    Thanks for sharing this Silvana xx

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  3. Lovely. Thank you both for sharing your reflections, and adding another dimension to the love story...

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