Luke 8:1-3, Matthew 15:32-39, Psalm 1
agdalena, I have decided that I want to speak to you today. On some long distant day, your parents will likely tell you the story of how they chose to give you your name. And the story they will tell you, I happen to know, will go something like this: When your mom was only a couple of weeks pregnant with you, your grandma got a phone call from your great Aunt Maggie who lived way out west. She had called to tell your grandma, before your mom had said a word, that your mom was pregnant and that she was going to have a girl.
That event was what prompted your parents to name you after your great Aunt Maggie (whose full name, of course, is Magdalena). And I’m sure you can be proud of being named after her – a strong woman who is obviously sensitive to things that many of us are not.
But I didn’t really want to talk to you about your Great Aunt Maggie today, but about another woman – maybe one of the strongest I have ever heard of – after whom you are also named. We know her, as Mary Magdalene, one of the early followers of Jesus of Nazareth.
Now, Mary Magdalene is a very important person in Christian tradition. Down through the centuries, all kinds of things have been said and written about her. She has often been identified as a prostitute or as that repentant woman who washed Jesus’ feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. I wanted to tell you first of all, Magdalena, that there is absolutely no reason to think that Mary Magdalene was any of those things. At least, at no point does the Bible say any such things about her. These are all ideas that somehow became attached to the figure of Mary Magdalene in later church traditions.
It might even be that these negative images of Mary were intentionally connected to her by later church leaders as a kind of a smear campaign. You see, she was a little bit embarrassing to later Christians because it is pretty obvious that she was an important leader in the early