Today is the Feast of Mary Magdalene, a great day to induct my favorite saint into the Hall of Marys. She is perhaps my favorite follower of Jesus for so many reasons that I cannot list them all here. Suffice it to say that my daughter is named for her and I hope she grows up to be as loyal, caring, strong, persistent, and pioneering as the Magdalene, but without all the strange rumors.
Among the strangest stories about Mary Magdalene is this: after the death and resurrection of Jesus, she was spreading the Gospel and managed to visit the Emperor Tiberius in Rome. She greeted him with a plain egg in her hand and the Easter greeting, “Christ has risen.” The Emperor laughed and said that Christ was no more risen than the egg in her hand was red. Immediately the egg turned blood red.
Red is Mary Magdalene’s color. It is the color of prostitutes and adultery for women–one of the rumors about her. Red is the color of blood–Jesus blood given for us, Mary’s blood coursing through her veins, a source of nourishment. Red is the color of love and passion–Mary’s passion for Jesus, his mission, and his followers. In the church today, fiery red is the color of the Holy Spirit present in burning bushes and Pentecost flames.
Mary was the Apostle to the Apostles, the one who went to the tomb to carry out the saddest duty one friend can do for another: anoint them for burial. She unwittingly became the witness to the miracle of resurrection, the first to believe the unbelievable. She became the first to share the good news. Mary Magdalene was aflame with love for God and spread that love far and wide. It is for this that she is known, not for her relationship to a husband, father, son, or brother. She is known as her own self and for her own passionate, spirited love.
Go and do likewise.