Mary Madalene: Woman of Shadows

Mary Magdalene: Woman of Shadows

Diarmuid Ó Murchú is an Irish poet, author, friend, and member of the Sacred Heart Community. This poem highlights the presence of Mary Magdalene and the women at Jesus’ death and resurrection and invites us to question why we have not honored their role more fully. Poetry is so much better heard than simply read, so for full effect, read these words aloud, perhaps several times.

What happened [to] the women on the first Easter Day
Breaks open a daring horizon,
Inviting all hearts to discern.
Mid the grieving and trauma of loss,
The horror to stand at the foot of a Cross.
A body we think was buried in haste,
And a tomb that was empty but restless in taste.
Empowering a strange group of women. [stanza 2]

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

What happened to those on the first Day of Easter,
The faithful disciples by Magdalene led?
A subverted truth the patriarchs dread.
Beyond all the theories that time has construed,
Beyond the oppression we have too long endured.
The first ones commissioned for Easter proclaim
A woman-led mission we’ve brutally maimed.
But we can’t keep subverting empowerment. [stanza 5]

Resurrection still flourishes and always it will,
Imbued with a truth that time will fulfil.
What women empowered at the dawning breakthrough
will bear fruit in season
despite all the treason.
’Cos justice will render what deserves to endure. [stanza 6] [1]


Father Richard Rhor gives a good summary of the person of Mary Magdalene:

“One of the lessons we might learn from the Gospel stories of Mary Magdalene is that, in the great economy of grace, all is used and transformed. Nothing is wasted. God uses our egoic desires and identities and leads us beyond them. Jesus’ clear message to his beloved Mary Magdalene in their first post-resurrection encounter is not that she squelch, deny, or destroy her human love for him. He is much more subtle than that. He just says to her “Do not cling to me” (John 20:17). He is saying “Don’t hold on to the past, what you think you need or deserve. We are all heading for something much bigger and much better, Mary.” This is the spiritual art of detachment, which is not taught much in the capitalistic worldview where clinging and possessing are not just the norm but even the goal. “

A second lesson we might learn from Mary Magdalene is that of “listening,” for in all portrayals of her in the New Testament she is simply present. The art of listening is especially available during this time of “Staying in Place”, and it is difficult to be with ourselves. for as we look back at our lives we see our “sins”.

    There has been on Facebook a couple of items listing behaviors that most people do through  the years–behaviors that are not flattering–it has never failed for me to check all of them LOL.  And there are many more, many more. We are all sinners, all sinners.

    I am well aware of things I have done, and well aware there will be others. I strive to live in the present, take them and examine and move on. We need to stop holding the wrongs of others under a microscope and look at ourselves.

    During a time of great pain many years ago when he was a young priest, the new Roman Catholic Bishop of Iowa wrote these words to me in response to a note congratulating him:

“Thank you for remembering me on my ordination as Bishop after so many years. I remember well our conversations at Sacred Heart in. …and simply tried to be a brother in Christ to another hurting brother–something  that you made a full time ministry of for so very many years in San Francisco”.

    Bill knew I was a prostitute, and all that went with that occupation, and in  his ministry I found Christ again and was born a new.

    Bill gave  the greatest compliment ever given me: that ministry  is being a “brother to others.” And it is dangerous and risky at times, but during these many years, meaningful and rewarding. There are no regrets.

       Maria EJ Zuhari quotes a friend in these words:

“Most white people have reached a point where they are blind to their privilege because they were born into institutional racism. (my words)– homophobia, sexism, and all that put down others.”

    We can tear down statues, and carry signs, but until we have “a revolution of the heart”, as Dorothy Day once said, we will not change. For Zuhari’s friend  is absolutely correct in her assessment.

    I look at my actions every day, and the past, and remember, that in Jesus we are offered new life, and come to him without judging others.

    That  is what Mary Magdalene offered as the “first apostle,” the”first priest” as she stood strong, and steady at the tomb of Jesus–our hope of a new life in Christ. Deo
Gratias! Thanks be to God!”


Father River Damien Sims, sfw, D.Min., D.S.T.

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos. org

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: