Sunday, July 23, 2017

weeds, wheat, and time

Mary of Magdala

There is a mine south and east of here once called the Irish Mag., from the false association of this woman of Galilee with a woman caught in adultery or a woman anointing Jesus' feet with precious oil. She was as desperate as the woman about to be stoned, she was as grateful as the woman preparing Jesus for his Burial.

What we do know about her is her dilemma and distress, her deliverance and dignity restored, her response of love and faithful follower-ship, and her witness to the one who delivered her from demons and who was himself to lead us all from death to life.

She was a witness: one of the last to see him living and the first to see him raised. She was a witness; the messenger to the apostles of the risen Lord, the first to proclaim the good news.

What we know of her helps us sort out the meaning of this strange parable of the wheat and the weeds. The farmer takes a puzzling course. He could have had the workers pull or hoe or poison the weeds once they'd sprouted and been spotted. But instead his patience and wisdom led to something that makes more sense if we realize Jesus was talking about a harvest of souls - and that the time was ripe.

Remember, he said that "the harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few." (Matthew 9:37, Luke 10:2) The harvest time is now - for Mary of Magdala. A woman worn down by afflictions, she becomes one of the greatest of disciples.

Magdala is a small ancient town site along the lakeshore of Gennesaret better known in the Bible stories as the Sea of Galilee. On the west side of the lake south of the incoming stream of the Jordan are a series of places well known to pilgrim: Capernaum (where Jesus healed Peter's mother-in-law) then Tabgha (the multiplication of the fishes), Ginosaur, and Magdala. Inland from the ancient site is a modern Arab/Israeli village, Migdal. Recent excavations show the importance anew of these small ancient villages.

Along the lakeshore where Jesus first began his ministry, proclaiming and healing, he encountered this woman. (Luke 8:2, Mark 16:9) And something extraordinary happened. He encountered her in the midst of her affliction with unconditional love. He never confused her quandary with the person that God loved. And as a result of this personal encounter with Jesus her dignity was restored. She became an icon of hope for all who are broken in heart or spirit or body or mind.

And this freedom, and her devoted discipleship, prepared her for something even more extraordinary. For she was a witness - one of the last to see Jesus living, and then - the first to see him risen. A personal encounter with Jesus that transformed the world. For she, the first witness of the resurrection, was sent by Jesus to proclaim the good news to his apostles, the ones commissioned to take this message to all peoples.

St. Paul's, Tombstone.

July 23, 2017. Seventh Sunday after Pentecost.
Proper 11. Year A. Track 2.
Isaiah 44:6-8.
Psalm 86:11-17.
Romans 8:12-25.
Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43.
The Parable of the Weeds of the Field (the Wheat and the Tares).

Feast of Saint Mary Magdalene (July 22)
Judith 9:1,11-14
2 Corinthians 5:14-18
John 20:11-18
Psalm 42:1-7

"Mary Magdalene: Icon of Hope" by Jennifer Ristine, RC. accessed July 22, 2017.

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