THE FIRST EASTER EVANGELISTS (LUKE 24:1-12)
A Catholic sister, Sister Chris Schenk, was shocked when she took theology classes several years ago (1994) that taught Mary Magdalene, “a woman who had been one of Jesus’ most courageous apostles had been turned into a prostitute.” Then Schenk learned there were efforts to restore the reputation of Mary of Magdalene by an organization called FutureChurch, and when FutureChurch invited her to serve as executive director, she decided to quit her job as a midwife in Cleveland and correct one of the worst injustices in biblical history.
For the last two years, Schenk promoted some 124 services to an estimated 2, 500 people to honor Mary of Magdalene on or near July 22. Schenk said, “Most women, when they hear about Jesus and his disciples, think Jesus and 12 men were running around Galilee, when in fact women were among his closest followers.”
Women were highly esteemed biblically, but unkindly disparaged historically. Mary Magdalene’s fate, and the grim future of women through the ages along with her, was sealed by the Vatican, Broadway, and Hollywood. In the 6th century when Pope Gregory the Great pronounced that Mary Magdalene, and Mary of Bethany (John 11:1) were, indeed, the same person. Distressingly, the Pope had also failed to separate Mary of Bethany from the unknown sinner who anointed Jesus in Luke 7. Later, Broadway’s ‘60s musical production of Jesus Christ Superstar greatly sensationalized Mary Magdalene’s relationship with Jesus, but the final insults were Martin Scorsese’s 1988 movie, “The Last Temptation of Christ, “ and “The Da Vinci Code” that tastelessly depicted Jesus and Mary Magdalene as lovers and spouses. Even now, a non-profit organization with a noble web URL (www.prostituition-recovery.org), again, wrongly dubbed their efforts as The Mary Magdalene Project. Indeed, many paintings often portrayed Mary Magdalene as a fornicator, temptress, or prostitute – partially clothed, scantily clad and loudly dressed.
The first appearance, proclamation, and instruction of the angels on Resurrection day, however, were to women – a fitting and an honorable and admirable reward for their faithfulness. All four gospels exalted the role of women in the most important event of Christianity (Matt 28:1, Mark 16:1, Lk 24:10, John 20).
So why did angels choose to disclose the most joyous event to women? What was the role and place of women in Christianity? How have women served God before our eyes, behind our backs, and beyond what we think?
The Lord Honors Those Who Love and Care for Him
1On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. 2They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus(Luke 24:1-2)
A king who desired to build a cathedral, forbade anyone from contributing anything, in order that the credit might be all his. A sign was placed on the site with the king’s name as builder. But that night, he saw in a dream an angel who came to erase his name, replacing his name with the name of a poor widow. This was repeated three times.