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'You are the light of the world'. Mary of Magdala. Meditation Day Eleven

'You are the light of the world'

Mary of Magdala, Meditation Day Eleven

Copperplate relief by unknown artist in Sulawesi, Indonesia

Click here or on the picture for an enlargement.

Studying the picture

There must have been moments like this, when Jesus spoke with the women who followed him throughout his ministry. We see a picture of Mary and Martha in Bethany. Was this Mary the same person as Mary of Magdala? Traditional artists just equated these two Maries. Through the ages scholars have argued about the question whether or not Mary of Magdala and Mary of Bethany was the same woman. However, for a person looking for inspiration the matter is unimportant. If the two Maries are one person, the woman's example of faith is even stronger; if not, there is enough inspiration to be found in either.

In the above picture, which somebody in Indonesia has patiently hammered into a plate of copper, we see a conversation between Jesus and Mary, and Martha listening in. We remember how one day Mary had sat down at the feet of the Master, in the classical posture of a disciple paying attention to the teacher. Remember what is said about Paul of Tarsus. Scripture tells us that he had sat at the feet of Gamaliël. Exegists tell us what that means: Paul had been Gamaliël’s disciple.


We know how Jesus reacted to Martha’s protest. “Mary has chosen the better part.” Paul will write at a later time: “Be ambitious for the higher gifts (1 Cor 12,31). Nobody needed to tell Mary. Her heart and her soul knew.

In the picture we see some surprise in Mary’s gesture. “Me, Master?”, she asks. What important word of Jesus could have surprised her? Maybe this: “You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill-top cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp to put it under a tub; they put it on the lamp-stand where it shins for everyone in the house. In the same way your light must shine in the sight of people, so that, seeing your good works, they may give the praise to your Father in heaven” (Matt. 5,14-16). Jesus calls himself the light of the world. But he gives the same commission to us. To you and to me.

Sr. Theresia Saers

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