Mary Magdalene is one of the most important women mentioned in the New Testament. She was one of Jesus’ closest followers and is thought by many to have been a woman of means who may have bankrolled his ministry. The Gospels tell us Mary of Magdala was the woman from whom Jesus expelled seven demons. She stayed by Jesus at the foot of the cross, and after his death went to anoint his body for burial. All four Gospels agree that Mary was the first person to witness the Resurrection, and so she is called the “apostle to the apostles.” She has often been confused with Mary of Bethany (sister of Martha and Lazarus) and also with the sinful woman in Luke 7 who washed Jesus’ feet with her hair. This confusion has led to the false idea that Mary Magdalene was a repentant prostitute. Her feast day is July 22.
“But Mary stayed outside the tomb weeping… Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?”… Mary of Magdala went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord,” and what he told her.” — John 20:11a, 15a, 18
Questions for Reflection
Mary Magdalene has been a victim of mistaken identity and has had an undeserved reputation as a woman of ill repute for centuries. In fact, she was not a fallen woman, but a leader within the community of disciples and in Jesus’ inner circle of friends. What do you imagine it was like for a woman of that time and place to be so close to Jesus? What obstacles do you think women of faith face today in this time and place?