Archive for the ‘St. Mary Magdalene’ Tag

Forgiveness, Part III   Leave a comment

Above:  Christ in the House of Simon, by Dieric Bouts

Image in the Public Domain

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For the Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year 2, according to the U.S. Presbyterian lectionary of 1966-1970

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O Lord Jesus, who art the same yesterday, today, and forever:

strengthen our weak resolve, that we may remain faithful in all the changes of this life

and, at the last, enter the joy of thy kingdom.  Amen.

The Book of Common Worship–Provisional Services (1966), 126

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Isaiah 55:1-13

1 John 2:1-17

Luke 7:36-50

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The readings from Isaiah 55 and 1 John 2 are consistent with St. Augustine of Hippo‘s definition of sin–disordered love.  To love something one should not love is a form of disordered love.  If, however, something is worthy of love, but one loves it too much, one manifests another form of disordered love, which takes love away from God, and, therefore, constitutes idolatry.

There was no question of the full love of the sinful woman in Luke 9:36-50.  She (not St. Mary Magdalene–named in Luke 8:2 in a positive light–despite centuries of erroneous tradition) loved Jesus so much she did not care how foolish she looked.  She loved him extravagantly.  She loved him so much she did not care about violating social conventions.  Her love for Jesus was not disordered.  Perhaps the main spiritual difference between her and Simon the Pharisee, the host of our Lord and Savior that day, was that she understood how much she needed forgiveness.  She was, therefore, grateful to receive it.

When one is experiencing spiritual darkness, the light of grace, always present, seems brighter than at other times.  The sense of God’s presence and grace can reduce one to tears as one feels one’s unworthiness powerfully.  I know this firsthand.  Perhaps you do, also, O reader.

My need for forgiveness is on my mind daily.  Sometimes I sin before I get out of bed.  On other occasions, I begin my daily sinning after getting out of bed.  I make no pretenses of being a spiritual giant or master, but I do try to refocus myself throughout each day.  The divine call to come to the water and drink beckons me.  Thanks be to God!

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 24, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THOMAS À KEMPIS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK, PRIEST, AND SPIRITUAL WRITER

THE FEAST OF JOHN NEWTON, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF WALTER RAUSCHENBUSCH, U.S. BAPTIST MINISTER AND THEOLOGIAN OF THE SOCIAL GOSPEL

THE FEAST OF SAINTS VINCENTIA GEROSA AND BARTHOLOMEA CAPITANIO, COFOUNDERS OF THE SISTERS OF CHARITY OF LOVERE

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Proverbs and John, Part IX: Resurrection and Vocation   2 comments

edicule1

Above:  The Edicule, Church of Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem, Palestine, 1878-1946

Image Source = Library of Congress

(http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/mpc2004005703/PP/)

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Blessed Lord, who caused all holy scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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The Assigned Readings:

Proverbs 27:1-24 (June 23)

Proverbs 30:1-9, 18-33 (June 24)

Proverbs 31:10-31 (June 25)

Psalm 19 (Morning–June 23)

Psalm 136 (Morning–June 24)

Psalm 123 (Morning–June 25)

Psalms 81 and 113 (Evening–June 23)

Psalms 97 and 112 (Evening–June 24)

Psalms 30 and 86 (Evening–June 25)

John 20:1-18 (June 23)

John 20:19-31 (June 24)

John 21:1-25 (June 25)

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Some Related Posts:

John 20-21:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/02/22/feast-of-st-thomas-apostle-and-martyr-december-21/

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/15/third-day-of-christmas-the-feast-of-st-john-apostle-and-evangelist-december-27/

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2010/10/29/first-day-of-easter-easter-sunday-year-a-principal-service/

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2010/10/29/third-day-of-easter-tuesday-in-easter-week/

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2010/10/29/eighth-day-of-easter-second-sunday-of-easter-year-a/

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2010/10/29/fiftieth-day-of-easter-day-of-pentecost-year-a/

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2011/07/28/first-day-of-easter-easter-sunday-year-b-principal-service/

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2011/07/28/eighth-day-of-easter-second-sunday-of-easter-year-b/

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2012/06/01/first-day-of-easter-easter-sunday-year-c-principal-service/

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2012/06/03/eighth-day-of-easter-second-sunday-of-easter-year-c/

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2010/10/29/sixth-day-of-easter-friday-in-easter-week/

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2010/10/29/forty-eighth-day-of-easter/

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2010/10/29/forty-ninth-day-of-easter/

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2012/06/08/fifteenth-day-of-easter-third-sunday-of-easter-year-c/

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The readings from Proverbs cover a variety of topics, from friendship to flock management to the imperative of championing the poor and the needy to the virtues of a capable wife.  One can establish links between some of these unites and John 20-21, and I will hint at a few of them.

After one has seen Jesus die and meet him afterward, what is one supposed to do?  He did die as an insurrectionist (that was the charge), so following him was dangerous.  An initial and not unreasonable lack of understanding of the Resurrection faded and made way for mission.  A woman told men that Jesus was alive, thereby becoming the first post-Resurrection evangelist.  (St. Mary Magadalene, as the Eastern Orthodox say, was an equal of the Apostles.)  Returning to  fishing was a momentary lapse; the time had come for people after Christ’s Ascension (or whatever form the departure took according to the laws of Nature.)  Christ changed everything in the lives of those who went on to proclaim him after he left.

Some understanding comes best by experience, for words, although necessary, are woefully inadequate on some occasions.  An author of some proverbs did not grasp how an eagle could fly or a ship navigate.  These were (are remain) natural and technological issues, respectively.  Such matters one can explain well via facts.  The Resurrection of Jesus, however, is more mysterious in its mechanics, and I embrace the mystery.  Besides, the post-Resurrection reality really interests me, for it is my reality.  It has been human reality for nearly two thousand years.  And what that reality will require of me is not necessarily (in technical details) a match for what it will require of you, O reader.  Our circumstances are different, and we are not identical.  There is plenty of work to do for Jesus; may each of us do our part faithfully.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 16, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF RUFUS JONES, QUAKER THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN FRANCIS REGIS, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST

THE FEAST OF JOSEPH BUTLER, ANGLICAN BISHOP

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Adapted from this post:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2012/07/16/devotion-for-june-23-24-and-25-lcms-daily-lectionary/

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Sin, Consequences, Remorse, Repentance, and Forgiveness   1 comment

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Above:  A Scene from Passing Through Gethsemane, a 1995 Episode of Babylon 5

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The Assigned Readings:

1 Kings 21:1-10 (11-14), 15-21a and Psalm 5:1-8

or 

2 Samuel 11:26-12:10, 13-15 and Psalm 32

then 

Galatians 2:15-21

Luke 7:36-8:3

The Collect:

Keep, O Lord, your household the Church in your steadfast faith and love, that through your grace we may proclaim your truth with boldness, and minister your justice with compassion; for the sake of our Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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Some Related Posts:

Proper 6, Year A:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2010/11/30/proper-6-year-a/

 Proper 6, Year B:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/08/09/proper-6-year-b/

Prayer of Praise and Adoration:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/03/07/prayer-of-praise-and-adoration-for-the-fourth-sunday-after-pentecost/

Prayer of Dedication:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/03/07/prayer-of-dedication-for-the-fourth-sunday-after-pentecost/

 1 Kings 21:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/08/14/week-of-proper-6-monday-year-2/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/08/14/week-of-proper-6-tuesday-year-2/

2 Samuel 11-12:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2011/06/13/week-of-3-epiphany-saturday-year-2/

Galatians 2:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/10/31/week-of-proper-22-wednesday-year-2/

Luke 7-8:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2012/06/09/devotion-for-the-eighteenth-day-of-easter-lcms-daily-lectionary/

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2012/06/09/devotion-for-the-nineteenth-twentieth-and-twenty-first-days-of-easter-lcms-daily-lectionary/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/03/27/week-of-proper-19-thursday-year-1/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/10/23/week-of-proper-19-thursday-year-2-and-week-of-proper-19-friday-year-2/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/03/29/week-of-proper-19-friday-year-1/

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The Old Testament options are stories of perfidious people (one alleged to be a man after after God’s own heart), each arranging for the death of an inconvenient person.  Naboth had no desire to surrender his vineyard, nor should he have.  And Uriah was a good commander and a loyal husband.  In each case there were divine judgment and consequences.  Ahab’s dynasty fell.  Jezebel died.  David faced internal political troubles.  And the first child of David and Bathsheba died.  That an innocent suffered troubles me; one does not ask one’s parents to conceive one.  But at least David, when confronted, expressed remorse.

The sinful woman (not St. Mary of Magdala, by the way) in Luke 7 was both remorseful and repentant.  Her act of gratitude was sincere, if not dignified.  Yet she did not care about appearances, nor should she have.

In Pauline theology faith is inherently active.  In the Letter of James, in contrast, faith is intellectualized.  This need not prove confusing.  Choose a word–such as “faith” or “day” or “believe,” O reader.  How many meanings do you attach to each word?  And how many ways have you heard others use those same words?  Biblical writers did not always attach the same meaning to a given word either.  Anyhow, as I was saying, in Pauline theology faith is inherently active.  As a person thinks, so he or she behaves.  So, in Pauline theology, faith saves us from our sinful selves and grace–God’s unearned favor–justifies us with God.  So, after we have sinned, we still have hope.  That is excellent news.

Yet do we forgive ourselves?  God forgives the remorseful and repentant.  Many of our fellow human beings forgive us.  And do we forgive those who have expressed remorse and who have repented?

As Brother Theo, a Roman Catholic monk and a character in Babylon 5 (1994-1998), a wonderful series, said in Passing Through Gethsemane, a profound episode, said of forgiveness,

I don’t anything can ever be more difficult.

Theo continued,

I believe you were saying that forgiveness is a hard thing but something ever to strive for, were you not, Captain?

Here ends the lesson, and I need to learn it at least as much as many others do.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 12, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF DESIDERIUS ERASMUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN GUALBERT, FOUNDER OF THE VALLOMBROSAN BENEDICTINES

THE FEAST OF NATHAN SODERBLOM, ECUMENIST

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Exodus and Luke, Part IX: Intimacy with God   1 comment

moses-jose-de-ribera

Above:  Moses, by Jose de Ribera

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Blessed Lord, who caused all holy scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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The Assigned Readings:

Exodus 34:29-35:21

Psalm 99 (Morning)

Psalms 8 and 118 (Evening)

Luke 7:36-50

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Some Related Posts:

Exodus 34-35:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/04/14/last-sunday-after-the-epiphany-year-c/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/01/12/week-of-proper-12-wednesday-year-1/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/10/01/feast-of-the-transfiguration-august-6/

Luke 7:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2012/05/23/devotion-for-the-twenty-eighth-day-of-lent-lcms-daily-lectionary/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/03/27/week-of-proper-19-thursday-year-1/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/10/23/week-of-proper-19-thursday-year-2-and-week-of-proper-19-friday-year-2/

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Each of the four canonical Gospels contains a version of the story of a woman anointing Jesus.  She was either a anonymous or Mary of Bethany.  She was either of undefined character or of good character or a forgiven sinner.  The host was was either Mary of Bethany or Simon the Leper or Simon the Pharisee.

As I understand oral tradition, based on reading Historical Jesus books written from various points of view, oral tradition is neither ironclad nor completely unreliable with regard to details.  It is flexible, with a certain set spine.  (See N. T. Wright, Jesus and the Victory of God, Minneapolis, MN:  Fortress Press, 1996, pages 135-136.)  So, as I read and read the Synoptic Gospels, I find parallel versions of the same incidents, sayings, and parables.  They are similar yet not identical.  To apply this to the anointing of Jesus, something happened at Bethany.  But who was the woman?  What was her background and character?  Who was the host?  And which part of Jesus did the woman anoint?  The Bible does not provide consistent answers.  This does not disturb me.  It did not bother the bishops who approved the canon of the New Testament either.  So I take the Lukan account as we have it, in textual context, and interpret it in relation to its paired reading from Exodus.

The woman expressed her gratitude for forgiveness.  Meanwhile, in Exodus, a distance between God and the people remained.  There was even a distance between Moses and the people.  But there was not distance between Jesus and the woman.  And there need be no distance between Jesus and any of us.

As long as I can recall, I have always had a sense of God.  My relationship with God has had its ups and downs, with the latter being my fault.  And, when times have been darkest for me, I have felt God wither drawing nearer to me or seeming to do so; I cannot be sure which was the reality.  It was, however, a distinction without a difference.  God, as the Sufis say, is closer to me (and to you) than my (and your) jugular vein.  Experience has taught me this.  Perhaps it has also taught you, O reader, the same lesson.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 9, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT COLUMBA OF IONA, ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARY AND ABBOT

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Adapted from this post:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2012/06/09/devotion-for-the-eighteenth-day-of-easter-lcms-daily-lectionary/

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Misreading Scripture Due to Hearsay   1 comment

Above:  St. Mary Magdalene at the Foot of the Cross (Circa 1528-1530), a Detail from a Pieta by Angelo Bronzino (1503-1572)

Luke 7:36-8:3 (The Jerusalem Bible):

One of the Pharisees invited him to a meal.  When he arrived at the Pharisee’s house and took his place at table, a woman came in, who had a bad name in the town.  She had heard he was dining with the Pharisee and had brought with her an alabaster jar of ointment.  She waited behind him at his feet, weeping, and her tears fell on his feet, and she wiped them away with her hair; then she covered his feet with kisses and anointed them with the ointment.

When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself,

If this man were a prophet, he would know who this woman is who is touching him and what a bad name she has.

Then Jesus took him up and said,

Simon, I have something to say to you.

He replied,

Speak, Master.

Jesus said,

There was once a creditor who had two men in his debt; one owed him five hundred denarii, the other fifty.  They were unable to pay, so he pardoned them both.  Which of them will love him more?

Simon answered,

The one who was pardoned more, I suppose.

Jesus said,

You are right.

Then he turned to the woman.

Simon,

he said,

do you see this woman?  I came into your house, and you poured no water over my feet, but she has poured out her tears over my feet and wiped them away with her hair.  You gave me no kiss, but she has been covering my feet with kisses ever since I came in.  You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment.  For this reason I tell you that her sins, her many sins, must have been forgiven her, or she would not have shown such great love.  It is the man who is forgiven little who  shows little love.

Then he said to her,

Your sins are forgiven.

Those who were with him at table began to say to themselves,

Who is this man, that he even forgives sins?

But he said to the woman,

Your faith has saved you; go in peace.

Now after this he [Jesus] made his way through towns and villages preaching, and proclaiming the Good News of the kingdom of God.  With him went the Twelve, as well as certain women who had been cured of evil spirits and ailments:  Mary surnamed the Magdalene, form whom seven demons had gone out, Joanna the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, Susanna, and several others who had provided for them out of their own resources.

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Each canonical Gospel contains an account–each quite similar, by the way–of a woman anointing Jesus.  The citations, for the record, are:

  • Luke 7:36-50
  • Matthew 26:9-13
  • Mark 14:3-9
  • John 12:1-8

In the Lukan account, an unnamed prostitute anoints the feet of our Lord at the home of Simon the Pharisee.  In the accounts from Mark and Matthew, however, an unnamed woman (without hint of bad reputation) anoints our Lord’s head at the home of Simon the Leper.  And, in the Johannine Gospel, Mary of Bethany anoints our Lord’s feet at her home.  There is certainly no hint of a bad reputation in John 12:1-8.

In the Lukan Gospel, immediately after 7:36-50, we read of various female disciples and financial backers of Jesus, among them St. Mary of Magdala, a.k.a. St. Mary Magdalene.  Tradition, begun by Pope St. Gregory I (“the Great”) associates the prostitute at the end of Luke 7 with St. Mary Magdalene.  This association is erroneous.  Yet many readers and students of the Bible insist that the Good Book labels St. Mary Magdalene a reformed prostitute.

We who grew up with the Bible and Bible stories learned a great deal, some of it erroneous.  If we are to learn accurately what the Bible says about any given topic, we need to turn off the proverbial tapes running inside our heads, stop skipping ahead in a “I already know this part” fashion, and pay very close attention.  I endeavor to do this, with mixed results, I am sure.  I invite you, O reader, to join me in striving to improve.  May our expectations not prevent us from learning what we need to learn in the canonized texts.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 23, 2011 COMMON ERA

PROPER 25, YEAR A–THE NINETEENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST

THE FEAST OF SAINT JAMES OF JERUSALEM, BROTHER OF JESUS

THE FEAST OF SHIRLEY GUTHRIE, PRESBYTERIAN THEOLOGIAN

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Published originally at ORDINARY TIME DEVOTIONS BY KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR on October 23, 2011

Adapted from this post:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/10/23/week-of-proper-19-thursday-year-2-and-week-of-proper-19-friday-year-2/

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