Mary Magdalene’s name is often enough to get people to perk up their ears and pay attention. For many centuries she was the archetypal “bad girl”. But that image has been consigned to history and she is now being restored to her rightful place as one of the first Apostles.
Mary was healed and restored by Jesus, and followed him all the way to the cross and then to the tomb. It was Mary Magdalene who showed up early on Easter morning to look after Jesus’ body and, instead, became the first witness to the Resurrection. She is the model Disciple and she is a woman.
In the West many attitudes and assumptions about the place and roles of women have changed over the past few decades. The Church too has moved its stance over women’s ministry and ordination, but there is much work to do. The fact that we might find it difficult to rehabilitate Mary Magdalene to beloved disciple status very easily might call us to prayer that God will deliver all of us from ground-in and ancient assumptions about gender and role, and teach us how, going forward, we will learn to be the Body of Christ, men and women, in the image of God.