Tuesday, 21 July 2009

The world of fantasy

Tomorrow is St Mary Magdalene's Day. For some reason she seems to fascinate people. Dan Brown based much of his "Da Vinci Code" around the myth of this Mary. And the story is (it seems to me) largely mythical...it is the fantasy of knights and medieval Europe and the misplaced romanticism of the 19th century.
In that story Mary Magdalene marries Jesus (who according to the myth did not die on the Cross but was taken down and went on to live happily ever after with Mary who bore their children). Their offspring become the secret descendants of a miraculous ruling dynasty, which has continued to this day...but yet is unknown to all but a few initiates.
Brown wrote a work of fiction around it, and it's a good romp.
But, like much romanticism, it rather sacrifices the depth of a relationship for the sake of a good romp. Never let the truth get in the way of a good story.
We don't know a lot about anyone in the New Testament, and often it is jumbled.
To Mary Magdalene accrued all sorts of things, it seemed that almost everything that happened to a woman (other than Jesus's mother) in the Gospels attached itself to Mary of Magdala.
So she is sometimes thought to be the Mary of 'Mary and Martha' fame, she is the woman caught in adultery to whom Jesus says "go and sin no more", she is the woman out of whom Jesus cast secen demons. She is said to be a reformed prostitute. Why she should be all of these things I don't know.
But the most telling story, and undoubtedly most authentic one because she is mentioned quite explicitly and in a developed way, is her involvement with Jesus at the Cross and at the tomb. Mary is the first to encounter the risen Jesus, a fact that male centred religion often overlooks, she is the first person to whom the Jesus speaks. This delightful picture by Richard Stodart shows her holding an egg, the symbol of the resurrection.
To me, what is important about Mary is nott he Davinci Code nonsense, it is that the risen Jesus calls her by name. Mary. And that personal dealing with her reminds us that God speaks our name and gives us life.
What ever may accrete to her, this resurrection symbolism, that the risen Jesus speaks our name and brings us new life is the important stuff

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am wondering whether you read my reflection for Mary Mag?