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.
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.
“Now therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.” And he comforted them and spoke kindly to them. (Genesis 50:21)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. The story of Joseph and his brothers has all the makings of a great revenge movie. He’s separated from his brothers by their treachery and hatred. Years later he has the power to destroy them and they don’t even recognize him. The problem with the story is, there’s no revenge! Joseph could snap his fingers and get rid of his brothers. But instead, he snaps his fingers and suddenly they are treated like royalty and cared for as they are, his family.
Joseph is a picture of Jesus. Jesus doesn’t give us what we clearly deserve, punishment for killing Him. Instead, He uses His place as the Son of God to save us. To care for us. To forgive us. To give us life. Jesus takes the Law all the way to its awful conclusion: punishment and death. But not for us. For Him!
Everything that Joseph suffered, the Lord used to put Joseph finally into a position where he could provide for his family. Just so, the Lord turns the evil of His crucifixion and suffering and death into the means by which our sins are forgiven and we have life. Just as Joseph was once as good as dead and then was given new life, so Jesus was indeed dead and alive again on Easter.
Joseph, rather than judging His brothers and being harsh with them, spoke kindly to them. So the Lord speaks kindly to you, gentle words of forgiveness at the font and altar and from His Word.
Jesus’ cross and resurrection is all about Him not giving us what we deserve but rather what we don’t deserve. And so we learn not to give others what they deserve because of their sins but to put away their sins and love and care for them as Joseph and Christ. All our sins we meant for evil, but God has worked out all things for good in His Son. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.
The sinless Son of God must die in sadness; The sinful child of man may live in gladness; Man forfeited his life and is acquitted; God is committed. (LSB 439:5)
So few Churches celebrate the feast on the 40th day after Easter anymore. In Roman Churches here, it is mostly moved to the Sunday following. Some Lutheran parishes join together for service on its own day, but the congregation still diminishes yearly. Is it really unthinkable that Christ‘s people gather on a Thursday once a year?
When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back—it was very large. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.