Archive for the ‘St. Mary of Magdala’ Tag

Feast of Sts. Mary, Martha, and Lazarus of Bethany (July 29)   2 comments

Above:  The Raising of Lazarus

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINTS MARY, MARTHA, AND LAZARUS OF BETHANY

Friends of Jesus

In 2018, July 29 is nearly universally the feast of these three saints, siblings, as well as friends of Jesus.  There are some other feast days associated with them, though.  In the Roman Catholic Church December 17 is an alternative feast day for St. Lazarus.  In the Eastern Orthodox Church June 4 is the Feast of Sts. Mary and Martha while October 17 is the Feast of St. Lazarus.  The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand, and Polynesia reserves July 29 for Sts. Mary and Martha, as The Episcopal Church did prior to 2010.  This is not a comprehensive list, so one might identify more exceptions.

The germane chapters of the Bible are Luke 10, John 11, and John 12.

In Luke 10:38-42 we meet Sts. Mary and Martha, who already knew Jesus well.  In this famous story St. Mary sits at the feet of Jesus, as a male disciple would, listening to him as St. Martha, tending to the duties of hospitality, takes offense that she must attend to all those tasks alone.  We should be kind in our evaluations of St. Martha, for somebody had to do the housework.  A now-deceased rector of my parish, I have heard, commented that Jesus should have helped Martha in the kitchen.

We meet St. Lazarus in John 11.  We meet him after his decease.  The faith of St. Martha in Jesus is evident in her conversation with him (verses 20-27).  In the Johannine chronology, the raising of Lazarus led directly to the crucifixion of Jesus (see John 12).

We read of one of the four accounts of the anointing of Jesus in John 12:1-11.  One can read the other stories in Luke 7:36-50, Mark 14:3-9, and Matthew 26:6-13.  In John 12 we read of St. Mary of Bethany anointing the feet of Jesus in her home.  Details vary from account to account, due to multiple anointings, among other reasons.  The traditional misidentification of St. Mary of Magdala with the unnamed, sinful woman who anointed Jesus in Luke 7:36-50 led to the conflation of St. Mary of Bethany and St. Mary of Magdala.  Therefore the subsequent legends of St. Mary of Magdala have become legends of St. Mary of Bethany.

One might wonder how many visits to that home in Bethany Gospel writers did not record.  The answer is certainly “many.”  One should also rejoice that Jesus had good friends he could visit and around whom he could relax.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 11, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT BARNABAS THE APOSTLE, COWORKER OF SAINT PAUL THE APOSTLE

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Generous God, whose Son Jesus Christ enjoyed the friendship

and hospitality of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus of Bethany:

Open our hearts to love you,

our ears to hear you,

and our hands to welcome and serve you in others,

through Jesus Christ our risen Lord; who with you and the

Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Ruth 2:5-12

Psalm 36:5-10

Romans 12:9-13

John 11:1-7, 17-44

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 493

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Feast of Edwin Pond Parker (May 28)   1 comment

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Above:  Edwin Pond Parker

Image Source = HymnTime

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EDWIN POND PARKER (JANUARY 13, 1836-MAY 28, 1920)

U.S. Congregationalist Minister and Hymn Writer

The Reverend Edwin Pond Parker was a talented and remarkable man.  He left a lasting legacy in the lives of many of his parishioners, all of whom have died.  But, to the rest of us born in more recent years, his legacy is one of hymns.

Parker, born in Castine, Maine, graduated from Bowdoin College then Bangor Theological Seminary.  Then he, ordained a Congregationalist minister, began his remarkable career.  From 1860 to 1912 he was pastor of the Second Church of Christ (South Church), Hartford, Connecticut, whose history he wrote.  He was, for some of that time, also the chaplain to the state Senate.  Seldom does anyone have so long a pastoral tenure.  Parker’s term started with some controversy, which died down, thus enabling him to do the good work of a dutiful pastor for so long.

And our saint enriched the life of the larger church via his work in hymnody.  He edited hymnals:

  1. Song Flowers for the Sunday School (1866);
  2. Book of Praise (1868);
  3. Sunday School Songs (1869);
  4. The Christian Hymnal (1877);
  5. Sunday School Hymnal (1880); and
  6. The Christian Hymnal (1889).

Parker also wrote at least eight hymns and composed hymn tunes.  I have posted the text of one of his hymns to my GATHERED PRAYERS weblog.  Here is another hymn, from 1888:

Master, no offering,

Costly and sweet,

May we, like Magdalene,

Lay at Thy feet;

Yet may love’s incense rise,

Sweeter than sacrifice,

Dear Lord, to Thee,

Dear Lord, to Thee.

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Daily our lives would show

Weakness made strong,

Toil some and gloomy ways

Brightened with song;

Some deeds of kindness done,

Some souls by patience won,

Dear Lord, to Thee,

Dear Lord, to Thee.

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Some word of hope for hearts

Burdened with fears,

Some balm of peace for eyes

Blinded with tears,

Some dews of mercy shed.

Some wayward footsteps led,

Dear Lord, to Thee,

Dear Lord, to Thee.

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Thus in Thy service, Lord,

Till eventide

Closes the day of life,

May we abide!

And when earth’s labors cease,

Bid us depart in peace,

Dear Lord, to Thee,

Dear Lord, to Thee.

My only (very mild) criticism of the generally excellent text is the use of the word “Magdalene.”  The author referred to Luke 7:36-50, which does not identify the woman.  We do read the name of Mary Magdalene in Luke 8:2, but as a follower of Jesus.  And, that text tells us, seven demons had gone out from her.  Given the Hellenistic understanding of demonic possession as being responsible for a host of ailments from mental illness to epilepsy, I wonder what “seven demons” might mean in modern diagnosis.  The erroneous tradition of identifying St. Mary Magdalene as ever having been a prostitute has besmirched her reputation in Western Christianity.  In the Eastern Orthodox Church, however, she occupies her rightful place as “Equal to the Apostles.”

Parker died a few months after celebrating the sixtieth anniversary of assuming pastoral duties in Hartford, Connecticut.

I highlight the work of a pastor, which many people do not notice and to which a host of individuals do not give sufficient praise.  It is challenging and frequently thankless work, labor which many lay people, perhaps out of ignorance, are quick to criticize.  Our saint labored in one congregation for fifty-two years, dealing with a variety of personalities.  I can only imagine what that must have been like.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 29, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF PAUL MANZ, DEAN OF LUTHERAN CHURCH MUSIC

THE FEAST OF CLARENCE JORDAN, RENEWER OF SOCIETY

THE FEAST OF JAMES HANNINGTON AND HIS COMPANIONS, ANGLICAN MARTYRS

THE FEAST OF JOHN BUCKMAN WALTHOUR, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF ATLANTA

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O God, our heavenly Father, who raised up your faithful servant Edwin Pond Parker

to be a pastor in your Church and to feed your flock.

Give abundantly to all pastors the gifts of your Holy Spirit,

that they may minister in your household and true servants

of Christ and stewards of your divine mysteries;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Acts 20:17-35

Psalm 84 or 84:7-11

Ephesians 3:14-21

Matthew 24:42-47

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 719

Feast of St. Mary Magdalene, Equal to the Apostles (July 22)   5 comments

A Misunderstood Woman

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The Assigned Readings for This Feast:

Judith 9:1, 11-14

Psalm 42:1-7

2 Corinthians 5:14-18

John 20:11-18

The Collect:

Almighty God, whose blessed Son restored Mary Magdalene to health of body and of mind, and called her to be a witness of his resurrection: Mercifully grant that by your grace we may be healed from all our infirmities and know you in the power of his unending life; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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When you hear the name of Mary Magdalene, or Mary of Magdala, O reader, what comes to mind?  Perhaps your first thought is that she was a reformed prostitute.  That tall tale dates to the year 591, when Pope St. Gregory I (the Great) made that claim.  Yet nowhere does the Bible identify her as such.  (Don’t take my word for it; open an unabridged concordance of the Bible then start reading passages.)  And, for those Protestants who function on the rule of Sola Scriptura, that fact should suffice.

Or do you think first of claims that she was the mother of Jesus’ child?  Dan Brown made this old story the centerpiece of The Da Vinci Code, a good read filled with bad history and equally bad theology, but he invented nothing.  Frankish kings of the Merovingian Dynasty (486-751) made that dubious claim.  In an age of the Divine Right of Kings this was a bolder claim:  that the Merovingians were related to God through Jesus and Mary Magadalene.

This is what the Bible says about St. Mary Magdalene:  She was wealthy, and from the prosperous town of Magdala.  Jesus cured of her some undefined condition(s) the popular thought understood as demonic possession.  (At that time and place a range of conditions, from epilepsy to severe emotional distress, were allegedly demonic possession.)  The Magadelene was grateful to Jesus for helping her, helped finance his ministry, and followed him all the way to the cross.  After the resurrection he encountered Jesus (She was at the tomb to anoint his body, per Jewish custom.), at which point Jesus told her to inform the apostles that he was alive again.

Eastern Orthodoxy identifies St. Mary Magdalene as an Equal of the Apostles, and why not?

Some accounts conflate St. Mary Magadelene with St. Mary of Bethany, sister of Martha and Lazarus, all friends of Jesus.  This misidentification flows partially at least from Pope St. Gregory the Great’s conflation of her with the sometimes unnamed woman (depending on which canonical account one reads) who anointed Jesus’ feet (or head, depending on which canonical account one reads).  This woman was either anonymous or St. Mary of Bethany, and the accounts are clearly describing the same event.  (I have read all of them carefully.)

I prefer to apply Ockham’s Razor to the accounts of St. Mary Magadelene.  She followed Jesus faithfully from the time she met him and did for him as much as she could. That is how I remember her.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 13, 2010

THE THIRD SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR C