[After seeing the risen Christ,] Mary went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord, and this is what he said to me” (John 20:14–18).
It is on the basis of this announcement that Mary earned the traditional title of “Apostle to the Apostles.” The first to witness to the resurrection, she is also the one who “commissions” the others to go and announce the good news of the resurrection. . . .Cynthia Bourgeault
I learned how to preach in India! My wonderful Indian pastor and partner, and life-long friend, Adam Sandepudi encouraged my giftings with opportunity to minister with words and presence among people hungry for God’s movement among them. Our dearest brother and pastor, Rev. Dr. Nalla Thomas, bravely moved to ordain me and another woman minister in our Centenary Baptist Church, Secunderabad. Yet it was Jesus who met me as a young university student and moved me out with these words: “Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you, I will give peoples in exchange for your life.” Isaiah 43:4
It is with honor and love that the risen Jesus commissioned Mary Magdalene: “You seek Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified. He has risen, he is not here…But GO, TELL his disciples.” (Mark 16:7) The commission to go as followers of Jesus and teach ALL people is not gender specific. We have the example of a multitude of beautiful women who have gone before us. In the Gospels it is noted that there were many women traveling with Jesus “who followed him and ministered to him.” (Mark 15:40-41; Luke 8:1-4)
This past week in the liturgical calendar, the Catholic church celebrated the feast of Mary Magdalene. There was much written and spoken about her, but I want to highlight a woman’s voice:
Nontando Hadebe Preaches: Mary Magdalene, the Apostle to the Apostles.
Dr. Nontando Hadebe is a lay woman theologian and senior lecturer at St. Augustine College in South Africa, specializing in African Theology, Feminist & Womanist Theology. She is currently at the University of South Africa doing research on gender and theological education in South African institutions.
Her empowering and revolutionary message for women today traces back to the authority Jesus gave Mary Magdalene to preach and speak. Click the link to hear her message (9:37 mins)
As we celebrate Mary Magdalene, we rise up as women and we say we have a tradition that can be traced to a direct commandment from Jesus to speak. And we shall speak: we shall speak with authority; we shall speak with intelligence; we shall speak for ourselves… Christ stands with us to speak, to no longer be subjects of abuse and violence. Mary Magdalene was silenced and vilified in history, turned into a sex worker or prostitute to silence her witness…We are going to rise up…when we proclaim Resurrection we are wanting a resurrected body that is no longer violated and that is the Apostolic Commission for women through Mary Magdalene–Nontando Hadebe
Mary Magdalene: Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation, July 19-24, 2020
Of all the Gospel material related to women, none is more enigmatic and empowering than the role of the women in post-Resurrection space . . . The early church seemed unprepared for the archetypal breakthrough and proceeded to consign the women to historical invisibility. (Richard Rohr quoting Irish poet Diarmuid Ó Murchú.)
Richard Rohr’s response to Murchú: I think this is a perfect example of how we cannot see what we aren’t told to look for! For most of history, Christians glossed over the presence of the women at Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. We weren’t wrong; we were simply paying attention to what we were told to look at—the men—by other men (priests, theologians, and even the Gospel writers themselves). We skipped over the faithfulness of the women and focused instead on the faithlessness (and the Easter morning foot race) of the men. Mary Magdalene and the other women were the first witnesses to the resurrection because they remained present for the entire process, from death unto new life, exactly what is necessary to witness resurrections in our own lives as well.
SPIRITUAL PRACTICE: Listen. See. Stay Present. Look with fresh eyes at what you have been told and what you haven’t been told to look for! Allow the Spirit of God to teach you inclusivity, justice, love. See and believe “your kingdom come your will be done”…not allowing anyone to be silenced or abused or left out. The disciples did not believe the women because “these words seemed to them an idle tale and they did not believe them.” Luke 24:11 Take time to “hear” and “see” the witness of those who have been silenced because of their gender, color, sexual orientation. Be a witness, a participant in rising up and proclaiming a movement of love.
I wanted to believe, and I did believe, that things would get better. But later I discovered, I guess, that you have to have this sense of faith that what you’re moving toward is already done. It’s already happened. It’s the power to believe that you can see, that you visualize, that sense of community, that sense of family, that sense of one house. If you visualize it, if you can even have faith that it’s there, for you it is already there. And during the early days of the movement, I believed that the only true and real integration for that sense of the beloved community existed within the movement itself. John Lewis, on Krista Tippitt’s On Being interview “Love in Action.”