Dear Friends, about 30 people participated in our first ever Zoom liturgy yesterday–it was so great to see each other again through a bit of technology. My great thanks to all our technicians, readers, musicians and our wonderful community for making this joy-filled opportunity available to those who were able to join. Hopefully, by our next Zoom Mass scheduled for August 30, 2020; we can get some problems worked out for some who couldn’t get on for one reason or another. I have sent the mass script from yesterday already and now today, the homily is included. I do have a taped copy of the mass from yesterday that I can send on line–if you would like to view it–please request that and I will send it out. For now then, hoping this finds you staying well and peace-filled–love to all of you, Pastor Kathy
My friends, if my view of history is correct, this is our 10th Mary of Magdala celebration—since we began in 2010 with this annual celebration of Mary and all women, missing only the year that Robert and I journeyed to Alaska after my retirement.
Mary of Magdala is a wonderful model for women and for men—I add the men for it seems that if the hierarchy within our Church and its priests could be more like her and by extension—all men—our Church would truly flourish.
What do I mean by that? Mary of Magdala knew her heart and because of knowing her heart, which in the end, is all about love; she found her voice to share the Good News of her brother in faith, and her friend, Jesus.
Those who are apt to bypass the condemnation of Mary in the first centuries of the Church, as a prostitute and look deeper, have discovered that she probably suffered from a mental illness and in the past, this was called, “being possessed by devils,” of which Jesus freed her. Only those among us who have in fact suffered a mental illness, or depression that is debilitating, or still do, can truly understand the gratitude she would have felt in being finally freed of such a torment.
And we cannot truly remember Mary of Magdala without also remembering the attempt by past Church fathers to lump all the Marys in Scripture into a composite with the stand-out characteristic being, that she was a prostitute. In this way, she would not be remembered until very recent times for who she truly was; prophet, priest and apostle to the apostles.
Mary of Magdala is someone who calls each of us as Jesus’ followers to our best selves—to knowing our hearts, which means we will always present to our world and its people the face of love, instead of our heads and the rule of law. As we have always said in this community; we need laws to guide our path, but not at the expense of love. If love fails to be served in any situation of law, then there is something wrong with the law.
A current example of this is my invitation to you, today, if you wish, and I underscore that, if you wish, to have bread and wine with you for our Mass, through the Zoom technology and as we pray the words together at the Consecration, as we always do when we can physically be together, from our “collective altars,” Jesus will be present in a tangible way from my altar to yours through our collective eyes of faith.
This will be “different” yes, than when we are together—but in these extraordinary times that show no let-up any time in the future, it came to me, through my thought and prayer, that this was the most loving thing to do, albeit against the laws that say it can’t be done. If we on this side of the screen were to receive the physical body and blood of Christ in the form of bread and wine, I wanted you to have that opportunity as well. And please know that if you choose not to accept this invitation for whatever reason; that is perfectly OK.
A final word on this invitation is to reiterate that this is for a special time while we can’t be together, or in other words, the Zoom Masses and this invitation are only for this extraordinary time.
Now back to Mary of Magdala…In Jesus’ time, women were expected to keep silence and their opinions were generally not thought much of in public. When Mary reported to the male apostles that, “She had seen the Lord!—had seen the Teacher,” their response was pathetic—they didn’t believe her and had to go and see for themselves! And today, like this ages’ old response in Jesus’ time, the hierarchical response of men in positions of power in our beloved Church is to, not believe as well—not believe that the God they purport to follow could actually call a woman to be a priest or to lead in any significant way!
So my friends; we meet today to remember a valiant woman—one who led with her heart—with courage and truth, always keeping the path clear that followed in her friend, mentor and savior’s footsteps. That is all, really, that any of us need do in our world of 2020 to be able to say with conviction that we follow Jesus of Nazareth, who is the Christ—lead with our heart.
In conclusion, as we have already shared Sister Joan Chittister’s Litany of Women for the Church—who by the way, is a prophet in her own right—I wanted to include in my ending, her assessment of who Mary of Magdala is for our Church:
“Mary Magdalene is, no doubt about it, an important icon for the twenty-first century.
She calls women to listen to the call of the Christ over the call of the church.
She calls men to listen for the call of the Christ in the messages of women.
She calls women to courage and men to humility.
She calls all of us to faith and fortitude, to unity and universalism, to a Christianity that rises above sexism, a religion that transcends the idolatry of maleness, a commitment to the things of God that surmount every obstacle and surpasses every system.
Mary Magdalene is a shining light of hope, a disciple of Christ, a model of the wholeness of life, in a world whose name is despair and in a church whose vision is yet, still, even now, partial.” When we reflect on these words, I think you can see why Mary of Magdala is a wonderful model for all, men as well as women.
Finally then my friends, you, as I, have probably reflected on some of the public broadcasting material remembering this year as the 100th anniversary of women getting the right to vote. Some younger women today, who don’t know the story of how our great “grandmothers” in history fought, to get the vote, show that they don’t fully appreciate the gift these valiant women gave to us, when they don’t exercise this wonderful right and vote.
In one of the PBS presentations that I watched, a statement is made, “Women were given the vote!” to which a woman responds, “We were given nothing; we took it!” This truth, spoken out loud, like Mary of Magdala’s truth, spoken out loud, “I have seen the Lord, I have seen the Teacher,” whether that truth is accepted or not, does not diminish the importance of it being said.
Change that makes us all more equal, free, heard and appreciated is worth pursuing, like our country’s struggle now to address systemic racism. We all have a part to play in these great causes; for women, for all those used and abused in any way and Mary of Magdala is a great model to follow—for us, like her, “We have seen the Lord” and must respond! Amen? Amen!