The Magdaline

Three Camps:

Today, for me, is the holiest of holy days.  I cannot speak to this before I talk to all my brothers and sisters – Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Agnostics, other religions of the world, and Athiest alike.

I also invite those whose lens is oriented by a political identity – Republican, Democrat, Independent, Unaffiliated, Socialist, Communist, and other political ideologies.

Let me not forget my favorite people, good-natured and hardworking, honest citizens of the world (mostly) who leave religion and politics at the curbside.  They do their part in the labor of their chosen trades, in the trenches of community work, and in the toils and joys of routine family life.  They are in the best position to witness the good and the bad of how the religious and political among us serve or disserve humanity.

Message to all on the Holiest of Holydays (for me) – Five words:

We share life and death together.  About Three hundred Thousand people will be born today, and about One Hundred and Fifty Thousand will die today.  That is about 4 births and 1-2 deaths per second.  Worldwide Co-Vid 19 Virus has taken One-Hundred Thousand people.

These two events are goal posts that define our lives.  Regardless of our identifies and affiliations above (three camps), we all share perennial wisdom that we have accumulated from our historical traditions, philosophies, and hard-learned lessons (wars, famine, disease, poverty, natural disasters).  There is collective wisdom found regardless of perspective or religiosity that author Richard Rohr calls foundational wisdom.  They are a calling to us in my view to live our lives as one family on the “common ground of tolerance, understanding, and love.”   Each of these simple words comes with great responsibility.

Co-Vid 19 has forced us to acknowledge the fragility of our economic systems, our mortality, and the interconnectedness of the world.

humilityAmerica, for example, a nation that prides itself on individual responsibility and self-determination.  We sometimes forget our humble roots and lessons that our forefathers took for granted.  We have come face to face with the reality that personal responsibility and self-determination are not sufficient in the face of adversities that overwhelm families.  We have been humbled by a temporary force grater than our us.  The nation has enacted the most significant individual and corporate welfare act (called a stimulus package) to attempt to alleviate some of the pain felt by individuals and businesses whose very survival is threatened by this event.

As a nation, we are not willing to look at events every day that crush family during non-images (18)national emergencies (business closings, industries dying, addictions, medical crises, unexpected deaths).  We have a haphazard safety net that is laden with arcane rules and negative social stigma.  We blame the individual rather than the economic system that we have that does not ensure the fundamental dignity of life for all inclusively.   In regular times, we practice the opposite of what we practice in times of great tragedy.  Our nation needs to reconcile this contradiction.   We are a great and resourceful nation.  We can do better by our citizens and the citizens of the world.

Other nations have similar challenges built into their ideological systems.  Geopolitically our shared international relations on trade, global affairs, and mutual understanding are and have been a tinderbox of violence igniting war, famine, and other terrible calamities throughout history.  We will not fix this today.

The error of our time is Ideology is seldom humble.  In our religion, our politics, and sometimes in our individualized thinking we can take positions with utmost absolutism because they are necessary to serve our self-interest, sometimes at the expense of our brothers and sisters’ well-being.


“When you truly know, the giveaway is that you do not know.”  This contradiction presented by a daily meditation provided by spiritual writer Richard Rohr has truth in all spheres of life.  Any field that requires extensive mastery teaches practitioners that learning never stops.  Take the fields of medicine, engineering, or computer science.    When learning stops and the practitioners become resolute and unmoving, they are on the descent to malpractice or malfeasance!  They will not be at the top of their fields for long.  If we do not see “Humility and Patience” in our behaviors, we are probably not on the right course.

The message for all regardless of orientation is to practice this collective wisdom actively with others and with oneself:

  • Practice Tolerance, Understanding, and Love towards others and oneself
  • Practice Humility and Patience towards others and oneself
  • Recognize where these five simple words apply in our daily life

The Magdaline:

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I choose this aspect of the Resurrection story as it highlights the challenges and responsibilities of being Christian as well as the challenges of the “common wisdom” mentioned above.

This Holiest of Holydays for Christians and me around the world was first revealed to  Mary of Magdaline and other women who went to visit Christ Tomb. They are first addressed by an angel who reveals Jesus is not in the tomb, he has risen.  In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus himself meets them on the road and says:  “Rejoice!”  In their awe and shock, they fall at his feet in worship, and he tells them to “Do not be afraid, Go and tell My brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”

The women did just that, and the disciples were skeptical.  The Gospel of Luke describes the Apostles response:

“And their words seemed like to them like idle tales, and they did not believe them.”  (Luke 24:11).

The Apostles, the most intimate and closest followers of Jesus Christ, instinctively demonstrate a lack of humility, tolerance, and love.  Understanding and patience is not their collective first response.  Peter rose and left the room and ran to the tombstone to verify for himself that the body of Jesus Christ was gone.

The Apostles themselves had plenty of foreshadowing and knowledge of what was coming, and yet they, the most prepared to receive the revelation of Jesus’s resurrection, were unprepared to believe what is held to be the central tenant of Christianity.

A common form of enriching prayer life is called “Lectio Divina,” which is in short – Read, Meditate, Pray, Contemplate.  Without this practice, it may be hard to fully grasp the Apostle’s reaction without imagining yourself in their shoes.

As an engaged reader of both spiritual writing and works of fiction, I can join the narrative wholly in what is written and in my experiential reactions to what is happening in the story.

Placing myself into the inner circle of the Apostles, perhaps the unmentioned 13th Apostle, I was much confused and fearful after Jesus Christ’s death brutal death.  I, along with others, am in hiding.  Mobs of Jews and others have unleashed hatred and fury at anyone following Jesus Christ.  I am abandoned and disbelieving that the man who performed so many miracles before my eyes died a week ago.  I am not even sure what day it is today, we have been on the run for several days.  I know I am not first among the apostles, but why would Jesus reveal himself to Mary and the other women before revealing himself as risen to any of the Apostles?  I should have been there when he was crucified.  I should of went to his tomb and saw for myself.  Nobody will believe us even if we accept this as real.  How can I, on the word of these women, say Christ has risen without any proof other than his body is missing from the tomb?

The Apostles got there proof later in the four gospel accounts.  Each Gospel narrates the life and times of Jesus Christ from a different perspective, as great movies often replay scenes from the eyes of different characters within the film.  Each character brings a more in-depth understanding and perspective to the evolving plot.

Mary of Magdaline was both within and outside the Gospels.  She had the freedom to travel with the Apostles and outside of their circles as well.  She had the privilege and courage to witness Jesus Christ’s execution. Burial and resurrection.

Unlike the Apostles or Mary of Magdaline, most of us do not have personal revelations of an Angel or Jesus Christ appearing before us visually and audibly.  If we do, we are apt to chalk it up to massive spiritual imagination or perhaps brief psychosis!

Our words seem like idle tales to non-Christians when we speak about the resurrection, transubstantiation, and other beliefs and traditions that our faith holds sacred.  If we were honest with ourselves and others, we would acknowledge that our knowledge of God is minuscule, and we have the same access to experience as they do regarding God’s ways.  We have history.  We have a sacred text.   We have traditions and rituals.  And we have collective wisdom that we all share.

Our practice of Tolerance, Understanding, Love, Patience, and Humility will serve our carrying the message of Jesus Christ far better than any preaching or theological explanation of our faith can.  How we act towards everyone, on all matters big and small, is the measure of our faith.

As Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection bought revelation and redemption to all Christians, the suffering and deaths we are experiencing today bring us the opportunity to understand each other and seek redemption where appropriate from our fellow man and from God.  



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