The same old message
A fantasy of Jesus married with Mary Magdalene and their descendant we leave as it is, a pure fiction. A degree of popularity it has gained only tells about tendency of our materialistic era to draw down the Holy at the level of understanding, when understanding is unable to reach the level of the Holy.
Besides, it is all but revolutionary and new interpretation: On the contrary, it is very heteronormative picture of ideal family which doesn't correspond with reality today! The same old message that was..."a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles" (1 Cr.1:23) is in our modern and secular times more radical than ever!
Also whether we believed in speculations of Jesus being gay, or not, it is hardly a blashemy to consider these theories. After all, that would only be truly human - as He was a true man, right? AND simultaneously truly divine, because God is love.
In fact we may conclude it's good that we're challenged to re-evaluate our views. Unless properly chewed and digested, truths cannot nourish your being and become your own possession. It is best to avoid "spiritual fast food".
Mary Magdalene and Virgin Mary
Mary Magdalene was the Witness of the Resurrection and the most important woman in the New Testament. Only later was she unduly associated with a "sinful woman". Eastern orthodox tradition has always seen Mary Magdalene, "a sinful woman" - AND Mary of Bethany as three completely different women. Yet, as Thomas Keating writes, these three women are spiritually one because of their great love for Christ!
While a myth of sinful woman was growing and Mary Magdalene was made more and more quilty, a position of Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus, was strenghtened and she was lifted higher and higher, up to the Queen of Heaven. An idea of womanhood was strictly polarized in Christianity.
In gnostic gospels we may see a battle for power between two branches of Christianity, that of deeply spiritual and mystical esoterism represented by Mary Magdalene, and that of hierarchical church firming up its structure with St. Peter as an advocate.
1) When Mary had said this, she fell silent, since it was to this point that the Savior had spoken with her.
2) But Andrew answered and said to the brethren, Say what you wish to say about what she has said. I at least do not believe that the Savior said this. For certainly these teachings are strange ideas.
3) Peter answered and spoke concerning these same things.
4) He questioned them about the Savior: Did He really speak privately with a woman and not openly to us? Are we to turn about and all listen to her? Did He prefer her to us?
5) Then Mary wept and said to Peter, My brother Peter, what do you think? Do you think that I have thought this up myself in my heart, or that I am lying about the Savior?
6) Levi answered and said to Peter, Peter you have always been hot tempered.
7) Now I see you contending against the woman like the adversaries.
8) But if the Savior made her worthy, who are you indeed to reject her? Surely the Savior knows her very well.
9) That is why He loved her more than us. Rather let us be ashamed and put on the perfect Man, and separate as He commanded us and preach the gospel, not laying down any other rule or other law beyond what the Savior said.
10) And when they heard this they began to go forth to proclaim and to preach.
Gospel according to Mary Magdalene
Let it be emphasized, however, that we in no way support the gnostic ideas which failed to see the one of a kind cosmic significance of Incarnation!
Almighty God, whose blessed Son restored Mary Magdalene To health of body and mind, and called her to be a witness of his resurrection: Mercifully grant that by your grace we may be healed of all our infirmities and know you in the power of his endless life; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
Jesus and women; what about Paul?
Against Jesus's example and practice of the early church, women were later suppressed under men. It is clear that Mary Magdalene was among the larger group of disciples - during the first centuries she was honored with a title "equal to the apostles" and even "apostle to the apostles". Women's right to teach was supported on the 12th century by the legend of Mary Magdalene. Lk.10:41-42 Mary of Bethany at the Lord's feet listening to his words, describes a relationship of disciple to her Teacher, as that of St. Paul who was... "Brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers" (Acts 22:3). At the time teaching women was not appropriate, in fact for women studying the law of Moses was strictly forbidden. In this episode Luke turns the role ecpectations upside down. Martha's main worry was not that she needed help in the kitchen, but she must have felt ashamed for her sister's inapproriate behaviour, and Jesus understood this. Attitude of Jesus was exceptionally unprejudiced at the time. Against the customs of His time He did not only speak with women in public (John 4:7-27, Mark 5:25-34), and even His disciples were surprised; in fact, Samaritan woman became a first female preacher, even though there were two things against her: she was a Samaritan woman! Jesus began a conversation with her by asking her help and thus raising her self-esteem. He put aside 500 years old hostility between the Jewish and the Samaritans just like that.
Jesus also accepted women among His followers (Mark 15:40-41). He didn't approve stoning a woman for adultery. He called His followers His "brothers and sisters and mothers" (Mark 3:31-35). Mark is using a term "disciples" over 40 times. This is larger group than those 12, who were all men. According to Greek text, women had "followed" Jesus. Following Jesus (akoloutheou) is a term settled by Mark to describe Jesus' disciples in relation to their Master. Jesus called people to be his disciples by saying: "Come, follow me" (Mark 1:17, 2:14). Also a phrase used by Mark in context of following, "to minister" (NKJV), refers to female discipleship. Greek term, diakonein, does not only mean caring for one's needs (as NIV translates!) but ministering for the cause of the Gospel.
Jesus refered to experiences of women when He told parabels. In Gospel according to Luke, Jesus tells parables in pairs, for both men and women, so that female listeners could also understand. While debating with pharisees, Jesus says men and women are equal in the resurrection (Luke 20:27-36). Even the family tree of Jesus in a Gospel according to Matthew includes four women, and some of them were heathens and sinners!
Luke mentions women who were helping to support disciples out of their own means (8:1-3), how group of women followed Jesus all the way to the cross (23:49), and the tomb (23:55), and how they prepared spices and perfumes (23:56) and they witnessed the resurrection before men (24:1, 10). And the apostles joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women (Acts: 1:14).
Scholars think some letters attributed to St. Paul were written long after his death, most likely by his pupils, including 1. Timothy, often used to reject women priests, and commandment for women to surrender under the will of their huspands in the book of Ephesians. Instead in his original letters St. Paul for instance greets with respect a female apostle Junia, although church for centuries twisted this passage and made Junia a male!
See also: Jesus and women: Magdalene , Women in Ancient Christianity: The New Discoveries, Paul vs. Jesus, Learn more about Mary Magdalene: Art, Drama, and Music, Scholars taking a new look at Mary Magdalene, Women in the Bible, Bible-Art: Mary Magdalene, Mary Magdalene gallery, Mary Magdalene.net, Mary Magdalene & the Feminine Divine, her many faces, Mary Magdalene devotional site, Candle Ritual for her Feast Day, Mary of Magdala Resource Download page, Feast of St. Mary Magdalen, Mary Magdalene, Apostle and Friend of Jesus, Mary Magdalene, The Unknown, Mary Magdalen, Myth & Metaphor (free e-book), Magdalene.org, Life of Mary Magdalene by H. Lacordaire, Mary Magdalene & The Divine Feminine (An Audio Slideshow), The Legends of Mary Magdalene, Queen of Heaven: The Life and Times of Mary Magdalene, Magdalineage.com.
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Homophobia, another weed in the field
What has all this got to do with us, you might ask. Point is, homophobia is just one more weed in the field of Christianity. Puritans in a New World adopted a role of Israelites opposed to the "red Canaanites" they confronted in the "Promised Land". Today Palestinian Christians may very well identify with the Canaanites. Christian mission was spreading with colonialism. Slavery was defended with the Scripture. Accusation that Jewish people murdered God finally led to tragedy of the Holocaust. Yet Jesus chose Judas among his disciples and knew all along what was to come; In fact Judas just offered a great sacrifice he took before his birth.* And Pilate in turn, trying to release Jesus, was an instrument of opposing forces that wanted to prevent Crucifixion. The Deed of Golgotha - the turning point in time - had to take place!
Judaism as a religion can't be critisized without critisizing a Jew, believer of Faith. Likewise Fundamentalists say "hate a sin, not a sinner" - they claim to judge homosexuality but not homosexuals: Yet WE - the concerned - experienence this quite differently! It is exactly this homophobia which (along with sexism, racism and antisemitism) is A SIN! Fear and hate are opposed to love. God is love. Sin is being apart from God. It is just that simple. "Wrath of God" is just a psychological experience of man; "Fear of God" is really a holy veneration.
*This has nothing to do with "the gospel of Judas", the only early Christian writing including words put to mouth of Jesus that condemn men sleeping with men. It is rightfully considered heretical! Jesus says nothing about homosexuality in New Testament but he has a lot to say about self-righteouss Pharisees; That should be enough for us, for isn't he the center of our Faith so his life and teachings should matter more than anyone else's. After all, as Christians we are the followers of Christ - not of Paul. Paul was a man like the next guy in spite of his evident merits. His thoughts are theology as much as theology of our time, but he was a radical thinker at the time whose most fervent opponents were Jewish Christians. Especially his Christology is bright and timeless. Nevertheless his opinions are those of a man of his time and culture.
A hymn for the feast of St Mary Magdalene
Out of the night where hope had died,
to tomb once sealed, now gaping wide,
the Magdalene made haste, to mourn
and bring her spices through the dawn.
She gazed in disbelief and pain
where Jesus in his death had lain,
until the radiant angel said,
Seek not the living with the dead.
Soon trusting love cast out her fears;
she rose and brushed away her tears.
As first apostle, Mary ran
to tell God's resurrection plan.
Jesus is risen! Mary cries,
Lift up your hearts and dry your eyes,
Jesus is risen--come and see--
and goes before to Galilee.
All glory be to God above,
for Mary's apostolic love,
all praise to God whom we adore
for ever and for evermore. Amen.
From The Saint Helena Breviary, Church Publishing 2006
Matins of St Mary Magdalene