St. Mary Magdalene, The Fervent Student of Christ
Mary Magdalene is perhaps one of the most underemphasized characters in the bible. But her conversion story is definitely an inspiration for us who want to learn more about Jesus and change our lives for the better. After all, not only did she follow Christ wherever he went for his ministry, she also witnessed both his death on the cross and his glorious resurrection.
Although lacking in scriptural context, St. Mary Magdalene is often regarded as a woman of sinful character. Particularly having sexual immorality. She herself at one point was possessed by seven demons that was driven out by Jesus.
When talking about her, we often talk about her dark past and her conversion story by the power of Christ. But we should also talk about her life as Christ’s “student” to really dive deeper in the life of this amazing woman.
The risen Jesus first appears to Mary Magdalene
In John 20:16, when Jesus has resurrected, she called upon her name and as she turned around to see who called her, her first reaction to acknowledge his presence was to call him “Rabbouni” which means teacher.
By this very episode of events, we clearly see what sort of association Mary Magdalene had with Jesus. They had a student-teacher connection which meant that her conversion process was under his tutelage.
Conversion only works with the guidance of Christ
It is easier said than done to “sin no more” as what Jesus had advised a sinful woman in John 8:11. Sin lurks in every corner of this world, waiting and using our weaknesses. If Mary Magdelene was indeed such a sinful woman, then there would have been no chance for her to change her life. Even after being saved by Jesus from seven demons that possessed her, it would have not made any difference if she went back to a life of worldly sin. Such is a dilemma of addicts and alcoholics.
Mary Magdalene perhaps knew her weaknesses. She probably knew that there’s a big chance for her to fall out of grace again. Or even worse, those demons would come back to haunt her once more. And thus her wise solution to truly try to sin no more was to learn from the one who gave that advise. Knowing that Jesus had a mission to fulfill, she knew she had to make the effort to follow him wherever he’ll go.
From Galilee to Jerusalem
During the time of Christ, travelling was harsh and usually expensive. Travelling meant literally changing your lives as you are forced to look for new work and new acquaintances. But the travel of Christ from Galilee to Jerusalem was no ordinary travel. Jesus and his disciples weren’t out to settle in a new city, they were out to evangelize.
If Mary Magdalene was to follow Jesus in his mission, then it would have been possible for her to sell everything she had to pay for her own expenses in the journey. Unlike the disciples whom Jesus called to come with him, Mary was acting out of her own will. Luke 8:2-3 states that the Galilean women who followed him, including her, provided for themselves “out of their resources”.
The beautiful life of a fervent student
Life for her in this journey would have been difficult. Imagine a woman at that time with no husband to provide for her or protect her, no real skills for work, and no close friends to look out for her since the stigma of being possessed and being sinful has ruined her honor before everyone.
But besides Jesus, she found one good friend! It was Mary the mother of Christ! Mary, the mother of God, would have been her refuge when the snares of the judgmental was upon her. Mary, the mother of God, would have cared for her like her own daughter. The mother of Jesus delighted on her continuous effort of conversion and was with her all through out this journey.
Like any student, her willingness to endure all hardships to learn paid off quite well in the end. Very very well! With the loving help of Jesus’ mother, Mary Magdalene not only learned more about life, but witnessed the very glory of it in the resurrection of Jesus!
Out of all the sinners in history, she is the first to learn and witness the death-defeating life of Christ of which we partake. She is to be “the apostle to the apostles”.
Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me. - Psalm 119:133