Festival of Saint Mary Magdalene

 

Today the LCMS celebrates the Festival of Saint Mary Magdalene.

The Gospels mention Mary of Magdala as one of the women of Galilee who followed Jesus and His disciples. She witnessed His crucifixion and burial, and went to the tomb on Easter Sunday to anoint His body. She was the first recorded witness of the risen Christ and was sent by Him to tell the disciples. Thus, early Christian writings sometimes refer to her as “the apostle to the apostles” (apostle means “one who is sent”).

Confusion sometimes abounds as to whether she is the same person as Mary of Bethany (sister of Martha and Lazarus) or the unnamed woman who anointed Jesus’s feet (Luke 7:36-48). Add in the statement that Jesus cast seven demons out of her (Luke 8:2) and you get the origins of a tradition that she was a prostitute before she met Jesus.

Following the assumption (possibly quite misguided) that Mary Magdalene truly had been a spectacular sinner whose penitential sorrow was deep and complete — and possibly because John described her as crying at the tomb of Jesus — artists often portray her either as weeping or with red eyes from having wept. This appearance (and a slight corruption in translation) led to the English word “maudlin,” meaning “effusively or tearfully sentimental.” Magdalen College at Oxford and Magdalene College at Cambridge (note the different spellings) — both pronounced “Maudlin” — derive their names from this Saint Mary.

Source: Aardvark Alley: + Saint Mary Magdalene +.

From the hymn “By All Your Saints in Warfare” (LSB 517):

All praise for Mary Magdalene,
Whose wholeness was restored
By You, her faithful master,
Her Savior and her Lord.
On Easter morning early
A word from You sufficed;
For she was first to see You,
Her Lord, the risen Christ.

Source

 

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“How to Fight the Daily Battle of Faith” – Luther

 

Martin Luther on the battle we all face daily.

Although I feel my sin and cannot have as confident and cheerful a heart as I should like, still I must permit the Word to have sway and say accordingly: “I am lord over sin, and I don’t want to know of any sin.” “Indeed,” you will say, “let your own conscience say that; it feels and experiences something far different.” That is surely true; if things followed the rule of feeling, I would surely be lost. But the Word must be valid over and beyond all of the world’s feeling and mine. It must remain true no matter how insignificant it may appear and how feebly it may be believed by me; for we all see and experience the fact that sin condemns us straightway and consigns us to hell, that death consumes us and all the world, and that no one can escape it. And you venture to speak to me of life and of righteousness, of which I cannot behold as much as a small spark! To be sure, that must be but a feeble life. Yes, indeed, but a feeble life by reason of our faith. But no matter how feeble it is, as long as the Word and a small spark of faith remain in the heart, it shall develop into a fire of life which fills heaven and earth and quenches both death and every other misfortune like a little drop of water. And the feeble faith shall tear these asunder so that neither death nor sin will be seen or felt any longer. However, to adhere to faith in the face of seeing and feeling calls for an arduous battle.

Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 28: 1 Corinthians 7, 1 Corinthians 15, Lectures on 1 Timothy, ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald and Helmut T. Lehmann, 1 Co 15:1–2 (Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1999).

Source: Daily Luther: How to Fight the Daily Battle of Faith | CyberBrethren – A Lutheran Blog.

 

“Higher Things” Reflection for July 22

 

Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that He had spoken these things to her. John 20:18

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Mary was the first person to see Jesus alive after He had died. She had seen Him on the cross, bleeding, dying, dead. She had seen the tomb where He was laid. She had gone to give His body a proper anointing once the Sabbath was over. Can you imagine her grief? Her surprise? Her joy?

St. Mark records that after His resurrection Jesus first appeared to Mary, out of whom He had driven seven demons. Mary had once been under the awful influence and control of Satan and Jesus had rescued her. By showing Himself to her on the day He rose from the dead, Mary learns that her rescue from the devil and death are really true!

Mary is the reminder that Jesus conquers all our enemies. She, like us, was in bondage to sin and death and Jesus set her free. He set her free, not only because He speaks His Word, but also because His is the Word of the One who died and rose, defeating the devil and conquering death. Mary Magdalene on Easter is the picture of Christ’s promise and the example of our hope that Jesus truly has defeated all of our enemies.

Many silly legends and false stories have arisen about Mary Magdalene. But the truth is the Lord granted to her the wonderful gift of seeing Him alive after He had been dead. She was the first witness of the resurrection. That a woman should see such a detail would seem a preposterous idea in that day and culture and so her witness of Christ’s being alive is all the more sure because it isn’t the sort of detail you can make up. And Mary thus serves as a picture of all Christians, part of the church, the Bride of Christ who, by the witness and testimony of Mary and others who saw Jesus, believe that He lives and the victory is won.

Now Mary is to find Christ in the church, just as we are. No hanging on to Jesus at the tomb but now, in His church, we cling to Jesus in the waters of our baptism, His Word and body and blood. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

Almighty God, Your Son, Jesus Christ, restored Mary Magdalene to health and called her to be the first witness of His resurrection. Heal us from all infirmities, and call us to know You in the power of Your Son’s unending life; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God now and forever. Amen. (Collect for the Festival of St. Mary Magdalene)

via Higher Things : July 22, 2012 – St. Mary Magdalene.

 

Prophet Ezekiel Commemoration

 

Today the LCMS commemorates the Holy Prophet Ezekiel.

Ezekiel, the son of Buzi, was a priest, called by God to be a prophet to the exiles during the Babylonian captivity (Ezekiel 1:3). In 597 B.C. King Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonian army brought the king of Judah and thousands of the best citizens of Jerusalem — including Ezekiel — to Babylon (2 Kings 24:8-16).

Ezekiel’s priestly background profoundly stamped his prophecy, as the holiness of God and the Temple figure prominently in his messages (for example, Ezekiel 9-10 and 40-48). From 593 B.C. to the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in 586 B.C., Ezekiel prophesied the inevitability of divine judgment on Jerusalem, on the exiles in Babylon, and on seven nations that surrounded Israel (Ezekiel 1–32). Jerusalem would certainly fall and the exiles would not quickly return — the just consequences of their sins.

Especially in the early part of the book, much of what the Lord “said” to His people was delivered in the form of action prophecies. In these, Ezekiel acted out representations of coming events pertaining to the fall of Judah, the destruction of the temple, and the seeming end of the Davidic line of kings. These action prophecies included the eating of the scroll (3:1-2), being struck with dumbness (3:22-27), sketching of the city of Jerusalem (4:1-3), lying on one side and then the other (4:4-8), eating restricted rations cooked on a fire of dried dung (4:9-17), and shaving his hair and beard with a sword before dividing the hair (5:1-4). Some seem a bit strange at first glance, once we understand their meaning and context, their messages are quite easily comprehended.

Once word reached Ezekiel that Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed, his message became one of comfort and hope. Through him God promised that his people would experience future restoration, renewal and revival in the coming Messianic kingdom (Ezekiel 33-48).

Much of the strange symbolism of Ezekiel’s prophecies was later employed in the Revelation to Saint John. Among these are the visions of the four living creatures as seen in Ezekiel 1 and Revelation 4.

via Aardvark Alley: + The Holy Prophet Ezekiel +.