SaintsScripture

Mary Magdalene: Model of God’s love song for us

By October 11, 2019 3 Comments
mary magdalene model of god's love song for us
Image: Charles de La Fosse, Christ Appearing to Mary Magdalene, detail [Public Domain]

The Christian band Jars of Clay wrote a song called “Love Song for a Savior.” In it, they sing with great emotion of a young woman yearning to be called by Jesus as she prays, “I want to fall in love with you.” This song is a reminder of how we should read Sacred Scripture: as God’s love song for us. How exhilarating it is to see that God loves us so much that he wants us to “fall in his arms” and fall in love with him!

In an effort to highlight women in Scripture who demonstrate virtue and femininity over wanton feminism, I could hardly think of an example better than Mary Magdalene (with the exception of the Blessed Virgin Mary). Mary Magdalene is not obscure or ignored in Protestant tradition; she is one of the better-known women in Scripture. The Catholic Church, however, sees Mary Magdalene as more than merely a character in the Greatest Story Ever Told. Her example plays a vital role in our salvation from sin through Jesus Christ. Mary Magdalene reveals to us the way to see Jesus’ mission as a great love story. She teaches us how to fall in love with Jesus.

The Penitent Woman

Mary Magdalene is recognized as a sinner in Scripture. Jesus drives out seven demons that have possessed her (Luke 8:2, Mark 16:9). Church tradition speculates that Mary Magdalene is synonymous with the sinful woman of Luke 7:36–50, the adulteress of John 8:1–11, the woman who anoints Jesus in Bethany (Matthew 26:6-–13), and Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus.

Whether all these women are Mary Magdalene or not, we can be sure that she mentors us in authentic contrition and repentance, and trust in the man she knows to be Lord: Jesus Christ. Her intercessions are worth seeking for that reason alone, but there is another aspect of Mary Magdalene that should move the heart of any person who looks more deeply at her: her great display of love for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

The Devoted Woman

Even if Mary Magdalene is not the same Mary who lovingly sits at the feet of Jesus in her family’s home, she is undoubtedly the woman who remains at the feet of Jesus as he suffers unspeakable agony during his Passion and Crucifixion. She, like Mary the Mother of God and John the beloved Apostle, continues her steadfast devotion to Jesus Christ, loving him through support and testament, even when most have given up hope.

Consider the day of the Resurrection: two disciples are walking to Emmaus, lamenting the scenes they had witness only a couple days prior, when Jesus appears and asks them what they are discussing. They tell him, “But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel” (Luke 24:21, emphasis added). Already, they have given up hope because events did not play out as they had expected. Mary Magdalene, on the other hand, does not run from the situation. She runs to Jesus. She does not understand what has happened or the promises Jesus made, but she has no doubt who he is. She goes to his tomb to continue the burial process through anointing (Mark 16:1). She does this all out of great love, without any expectation of what she, or Israel, might gain.

The Passionate Woman

We see Mary Magdalene’s strongest qualities at the Resurrection. Up to this point, she has shown herself to be penitent and obedient, a meek and devoted listener and follower—although not passive. As she nears Jesus’ tomb on Easter morning, her great fortitude shines. In the first place, the Pharisees have placed guards at the tomb for the purpose of keeping people out and ensnaring followers of Jesus (Matthew 27:62–66). But her Lord needs her, and she goes anyway. Next, when she discovers the tomb empty, she runs to tell the Apostles and maintains the truth, even when “these words seemed to them an idle tale” (Luke 24:11).

Finally, when Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene, thinking he is a gardener she has the audacity to tell him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away” (John 20:15). No despair and no loss of hope; just profound dedication to Jesus Christ.

At the Resurrection appearance, we see Mary Magdalene as the bride in Song of Songs. “I will seek him whom my soul loves,” the bride genuinely proclaims in Songs 3:2, just as Mary Magdalene is seeking the Christ whom her soul loves. She is nurturing, expressing honest agape love for Jesus. Mary Magdalene’s love is deep and moving; not lustful, but passionate. She is passionate in her assertion, “I have seen the Lord” (John 20:18).

Love Song from the Savior

Mary Magdalene was a penitent, devoted, and passionate woman in Scripture. She teaches us what it means to truly, deeply, and unfailingly love our Lord Jesus Christ. Through her repentance, devotion, fortitude, and chaste zeal, we learn how we are a part of God’s story of love, his love song for us. Through her example, we know that “someday he’ll call us, and we will come running, and fall in his arms, and the tears will fall down, and we’ll pray ‘I want to fall in love with you!’” (Love Song for a Savior).

Hanna Muldowney

Hanna Muldowney

Dr. Hanna Muldowney has her Ph.D in Curriculum and Instruction, M.A.Ed in Curriculum and Instruction, and B.A. in History with a minor in Latin, all from Texas A&M University, as well as a Certificate of Biblical Studies from the Denver Catholic Biblical School. Hanna and her husband have 9 children, and she homeschools all of them. She loves to work with the homeschool community, helping parents be the best teachers they can be for their children. She also loves sharing the faith through engaging and orthodox curriculum. In her rare free time, Hanna enjoys writing and sewing.

3 Comments

  • Kelly Walsh says:

    “Wanton Feminism”. ??

    I began to read your piece on Magdalen because she is one woman who got the message of repentance and restoration. I could not get passed this phrase. I don’t understand what this means or the judgment behind it, or the message you mean to send.

    Jesus brings the good news to all of us, without precondition. Mary is the perfect example of this.

    I am a feminist. I am a Catholic. What is your message to me? Are you saying that I have to be one or the other? I’d love to have a dialogue about this.

  • Hanna Muldowney says:

    Thank you for your reply and concern. I am not one who likes confrontation (I’m biting my nails as I write even this!), but you seem to have genuine concern, so I think I owe you my explanation. First, maybe you should read that as “feminism that is wanton”. I understand that not all feminism, especially Catholic feminism, professes anti-God, anti-man, anti-sexual restraint ideology, but there are many out there that do. There are many out there that want complete equality (sameness) over complete justice (what is right and God-given). There are some, even some Catholic feminists, who would argue that the strength of women like Mary Magdalene means that women should be priests, for example. I think sometimes that’s the danger of ANY -ism: it tends to take out the divine and makes it of, for, and by the people, and while intentions are often good, sometimes drops of poison are placed in the noble ideology.

    So, my goal was to show how these Old and New Testament women, defying their oppressive patriarchal societies, show us and modern society, how to be strong and virtuous while submitting to God’s will, and that the Church (even with her flaws), highlights these women and their efforts for justice, their God-given femininity and feminine genius. So please see the above mentioned line as “feminism that is wanton”, rather than attributing it to all feminism, much of which strives for dignity between the sexes rather than division.

    While I do not prescribe to feminism, Catholic or otherwise, I think you have a lot that you can teach me, and other readers. I encourage you to further explain what you mean by feminism, and I look forward to reading your explanation and learning from it.

    Thank you again for your concern.

    • Kelly Walsh says:

      Hi Hanna,

      Thank you for your response and for your further clarification. I am grateful to have this time with you. I prefer dialogue to confrontation too.

      I am a cradle Catholic and a cradle feminist. I was raised in a Catholic home by two devoted and committed Catholic parents, within a community that believed that we are all God’s children. I love my faith. I love being Catholic, even when its hard to be one. What does it mean to me to be a feminist? I believe that we are all equal in God’s eyes. I am no better and no worse that another, be that man or woman. Equal, to me, means equal in worth. I don’t suppose to tell other women how to live their lives, be in the home, working outside of it, having children, or not., being married, or not. I definitely do not hate men, or marriage. I do believe that women have unique perspectives and gifts, but that these are more expansive than what our roles have traditionally been. What I do object to the is the systematic subjugation of woman and girls. What I am tired of is “toxic masculinity” and “the male gaze.” What I want? To live in a world where all women and girls can be who God wants them to be, not who the world (men) says a they should be.

      I think what triggered me in your writing was the implicit assumption in the term “wanton feminism.” that feminists are not moral or ethical, but selfish and self-centered. That women, in order to be women, have to think and be the same, in order to be “acceptable”. I work outside the home, I am remarried and do not have children. That’s fine for me. It does not work for other women. Being a feminist means accepting all women, all of women. It means taking my cues of being a woman from God, not man.

      As for Mary Magdalen, she is probably my most favorite of Jesus’ disciples. She turned away from sin, turned towards God, and then went all out to be the woman Jesus believed she could be. She was fierce and protective and loyal. She was the first to see the risen Christ, and believe! She was the Apostle of the Apostles. If I could have half her courage…..

      I hope this makes sense. Thank you for a chance to respond. I hope to hear more.

      Peace,

      Kelly

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