Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Mary Magdalene in Robert Lentz's icon

I like that in the Robert Lentz image, Mary Magdalene is wearing a rich red robe. Red, the color of passion, sensuality, over a simple white robe which we can barely see. Do the stories of Magdalene's worldliness get in the way of the "truth" and simplicity of her story?

And the background, behind her, is pitch black. It makes me think of the tomb, death, The Void - what utter darkness. Magdalene is the one who tells us all that Jesus is out of the tomb - and alive! She is the first person he appears to, and each of the Gospels tells the story. See Johns' text (below). She is devastated by the death of Jesus, and now his body is missing. She goes back to his tomb and is crying over her loss.

Jesus speaks to her in such a tender and confiding way. He trusts her to get the message out. In our church this is the Gospel reading on Easter Sunday. And it brings me such comfort.

John 20: 10Then the disciples went back to their homes, 11but Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb 12and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus' body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.

13They asked her, "Woman, why are you crying?"

"They have taken my Lord away," she said, "and I don't know where they have put him." 14At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.

15"Woman," he said, "why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?"
Thinking he was the gardener, she said, "Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him."

16Jesus said to her, "Mary."
She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, "Rabboni!" (which means Teacher).

17Jesus said, "Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, 'I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.' "

18Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: "I have seen the Lord!" And she told them that he had said these things to her.

She is the first person to spread the news. And she is the first person to have to let go of the Jesus she knew and accept a new understanding of him. I think of her position and status as a wealthy woman back then, and her role among the disciples, and think she is worthy of such a fabulous icon.

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