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Mary Magdalene

By Ailsa Betts

I’m staring at a blank, empty document. Malcolm wants to have a church blog and has suggested some Bible verses for inspiration. I choose one of my favourites – when the resurrected Jesus reveals himself to the women.

I want to find an insightful slant on it so I turn to the usual source of inspiration. My family.

After bedtime stories and prayers, I say to my youngest, “Can I read a bit of the Bible with you and then you tell me what you think of it?”

“Sure!” She says. Her glee at having an excuse to be awake with me for a while longer is evident.

We read aloud from Matthew 28 and I ask her, “What do you think?”

“Cool!” She says.

Malcolm wants 500 words.

“What’s cool about it?”

“Well...” She stretches out to pinch my nose between her fingers. “I like the bit where

there is an earthquake and the guards seem like dead men.”

“Me too,” I say. She’s holding her thumb between her fingers as if she has stolen my nose. “Did the women look as if they were dead?”

“No...” she giggles, putting my nose back on. “They must have been stronger.”

We high five for girl power.

I ask my teenager.

“What?” She says, staring at me blankly and pushing one ear of her headphones back so she doesn’t have to lip read.

I repeat my request. She looks up the verses.

“It’s good!” She says. I marvel at her eloquence.

“Did you get anything else?”

“It’s powerful and exciting.” She shrugs.

“Any favourite characters?”

“Jesus!” She says. Jesus is always the answer.

I turn to the boys.

One of them is consumed by the TV show, ‘Antiques Roadshow’ and the other one is a cat.

Failing to get any more from my family, I turn to Australian singer, Nick Cave, who, when asked what is his favourite part of the Bible points to the end of Matthew 27 (verses 55-61) and says,

Mary Magdalene is the most moving symbol of true and resilient love… She remains... at the entrance of the tomb, the primary witness between two monumental events — the crucifixion and the resurrection — that have imprinted themselves upon history...

Mary Magdalene had experienced a deliverance and healing from Jesus that had transformed her life. She had known the power of Jesus in her life more than most. But now she was confronted with his death. Cave goes on,

Mary Magdalene, forever standing at the mouth of the tomb in steadfast vigil, gazing out of history... is the true icon of feminine grief — complex, elemental, patient, empathetic and full of sorrowing wonder... the true human hero of the Christian story.

As we turn the page to Sunday morning we read, dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb… they hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy and ran to tell His disciples. (Matthew 28.1 & 8)

I love the fact that Mary Magdalene was one of those there first to see the empty tomb.

I love the fact that the women who went ahead to tell the disciples that Jesus had risen from the dead were the first people in history to pass on the good news.

And finally, I love the fact that the Bible remembers to credit Mary and Mary with the delivery of the news of the risen Christ.

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