“The epicenter of Christianity is Love, and this week we are entering the epicenter. May we do so in Love.” ~ Rev. Cynthia Bourgeault
I searched and I searched. I needed to find the Beloved Disciple, Mary Magdalene, “in the picture” of “Palm Sunday” and “The Cleansing of the Temple.” Surely she was there along with “the twelve” and all the other rag tag and radical and ridiculous followers of Jesus. But look as I might I found nary a depiction of Mary Magdalene “on the Way” with Jesus in Holy Week.
What happens if we “picture her in” to the stories we know by heart but which lack the presence and point of view of her loving loyalty?
Mary’s absence in the stories of Holy Week seems odd in light of the fact that she gets the highlighted iconography in the most risky of places. The Last Week. The Last Journey. The Last Teachings. The Last Passover. The Last All Night Prayer Vigil. She appears in none of these. Yet the Mary of Magdala appears in the bleakest and most brutal moment of Jesus life, at the foot of the cross. She follows on to the tomb. And she appears in every account in the darkest and most daring moment, facing death before dawn.
We need to hear the word “love” mentioned as we go into Holy Week. As we stand here in a world so abruptly and sometimes brutally awakening to discover ourselves as one — interconnected, fragile, radically dependent on our great spiritual traditions to reconnect at the point of the heart… As we stand at that place in our world today, we must come to see that despite the venerable input of tradition, that the exclusivistic, judgmental, punitive theologies we have promulgated are a luxury the world can no longer afford. The epicenter of Christianity is Love, and this week we enter the epicenter. May we do so in Love. ~ You can hear Cynthia Bourgeault’s 2014 Palm Sunday Sermon at Christ Church Cathedral, Vancouver, BC here.
We need the loyalty and embodied love of Mary to show us the Way more than ever. Mortality and “lasts” confront us in this particular “Crowning Blow” (Corona) Holy Week.
Is this my week of “lasts?” Have I already passed the last time I will be able to make the 11 hour journey to see my 94 year old father in person? Have I had the last face to face worship gathering for…this year? The last hugs with grandchildren…? And will there be a dying loved one with whom I will not be able to say good-bye with a kiss? Will not share a last supper? A last prayer? And will that dying one be me?
We who live by Spirit Breath are faced with dying in unprecidented waves by suffocation. The wind has been knocked out of the earthly sails. Our hearts long to be anchored as we ride out this liminal holy and hellish journey.
If Holy Week is the heart of the matter, are we to dwell on suffering and injustice? My God, are we abandoned here? My teacher, Cynthia Bourgeault, protests that the heart of the Good News is elsewhere. Love is stronger than death:
Look for Mary Magdalene this week.
On Monday, in the Anointing of Jesus. (John 12:1-11)
Tuesday, Jesus teaching on the grain of wheat. (John 12:20-36)
Wednesday, the betrayal. (John 13:21-32)
Thursday, footwashing. (John 13:1-17, 31b-35) The praying.
Friday, the cross. The burial.
Saturday, the waiting.