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Mary Magdalene, Pt. 4

Mary Magdalene, Pt. 4
Confronting Mary’s Demons

Too often, female confidence and strong female leadership creates considerable discomfort. This is evident in many societies today, including our own. This would have been especially true in the patriarchal, male-dominated world that surrounded Mary.

As a successful entrepreneur, Mary surely threatened her male counterparts. A response of illogical but strategic labeling and unfair caricatures would not be out of the question. Cleopatra certainly evoked such responses from Herod and many of her Roman competitors.

The Salem Witch Trials of the seventeenth century, resulting in the tragic execution of nineteen innocent females, provide a sad-but-all-too-real testimonial to the ridiculous manner in which less-confident or intimidated men have reacted to strong women.[1]

In Mary’s male-dominated world, why not make up stories about her, tell vicious rumors to undercut her business? Why not gossip about her marital status? We can easily imagine the questions floating around: “Why isn’t she married? Isn’t she a good Jewish girl? Does have she have mental problems? Has she been sexually promiscuous?”

The questions themselves would give pause to any business relationship. In fact, why not say she was possessed by seven demons? Such accusations would provide an opening for others to enter the Tiberias supply industry. And, if spreading nasty rumors about a confident, successful woman caused her some distress, so much the better.

Though this scenario is just a theory, it is a theory with merit, especially considering the circumstances of Jesus’ time and place.

Regardless, Mary had enough influence to offer valuable support to the ministry of Jesus. In spite of the difficulties she faced, regardless of the reputation she brought with her, Jesus welcomed her, affirmed her, and encouraged her.

And he healed her. Perhaps it was some kind of illness. But more likely, her problems stemmed from social stigma, psychological abuse, public humiliation, or being ostracized from her community. Emotional and spiritual trauma would have been natural results. Whatever this meant, we can say she was saved by Jesus, healed by Jesus, and offered a new beginning, a new life—and a unique ministry on behalf of others.

In this way, Mary Magdalene discovered in Jesus a new way of living every day with hope and grace.

What about you? Do you have areas of your life that need healing? Have you felt excluded, unappreciated, or sidelined as unworthy? Jesus healed Mary Magdalene, welcoming her into a community of respect and usefulness; the impact of his presence in her life made all the difference.

It can for you, too.

 

[1] Beginning in the spring of 1692 in Salem, Massachusetts, fits of screaming and vomiting and strange behavior justified the assumption of devil possession and the need for swift execution. However, it has since been shown those strange symptoms can be attributed to a fungus found in rye and wheat and other cereals. The background, however, was similar to what we notice in Galilee. Women were becoming less predictable, less acquiescent, less willing to do a man’s bidding. This threatening female behavior likely stimulated the backlash that followed in 1692 (see www.history.com for more important information). Sadly, countless other examples could be cited.