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>A shameful waste of talent. Mary of Magdala. Meditation Day Nine>

A shameful waste of talent

Mary of Magdala, Meditation Day Nine

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Studying the picture

Another picture of Mary of Magdala teaching a crowd. We see the harbour in the background, a reference to the reputed exile of Mary and her companions on a rudderless ship and their reception by the people of southern France. Mary has climbed some steps which may have been there for the town-crier in order to bring the Good News to those who wish to hear. We remember the crowds drawn, first by John the Baptist and later by Jesus. Apparently in this case too both men and women come flocking to hear Mary of Magdala.

A very important man has brought his wife, and has been granted pride of place. Martha seems to be in the audience, for there is another woman with a nimbus. In the outer circle a monk seems to be explaining things to the person (a woman?) sitting beside him. Everybody seems to be very receptive. Apparently the artist must have felt that for a woman like Mary it is simply impossible not to share the spiritual food she herself received from Christ. Nor the streams of living water that were flowing from her own inner self as soon as she had turned to him (John 7, 38).


Somebody may argue, “You quote the Lord correctly, but you do not draw the correct conclusion, for in John 7,38 the text implies that Jesus is speaking to men”. I will answer him, - for only a man could say such a thing-, “Shame on you, read Jesus’ discourse with the Samaritan woman (John 4,1-42) and change your thinking.” It is such an unforgivable waste of talent that for 20 centuries with arguments like this, women were barred from what is rightly theirs: sharing the waters of grace they too have received from the Fountain of Life and the Spirit in whose Name they too have been baptised and confirmed.

In Christian art Mary of Magdala shows the silent protest in the imagination of believing Christians: their regret at what women could have done if only they had been allowed to share in the priestly ministry.

Sr. Theresia Saers

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