Issue #87 / March 2020

What is your favourite moment from the Bible?

NICCOLÒ, NOVARA, ITALY

Dear Niccolò,

When Jesus was taken down from the cross, his body laid in a tomb and a stone rolled across the entrance, his twelve male disciples essentially fled. Mary Magdalene did not. In Matthew 27:61 it says —

“Mary Magdalene and the other Mary remained standing there in front of the tomb.”

I think this haunted single sentence is probably my favourite moment from the Bible.

Misjudged by history, her fundamental importance in the Christian story undermined by the religious patriarchy, Mary Magdalene nevertheless remains the subversive nucleus around which the Gospel story revolves.

Mary Magdalene is the most moving symbol of true and resilient love, both earthly and spiritual. She ‘remains standing’ at the entrance of the tomb, the primary witness between two monumental events — the crucifixion and the resurrection — that have imprinted themselves upon history and fashioned not just Western thinking but the very essence of what we are, whether we like it or not. Mary Magdalene, forever standing at the mouth of the tomb in steadfast vigil, gazing out of history, is embedded in our subconscious. She is the true icon of feminine grief — complex, elemental, patient, empathetic and full of sorrowing wonder, and a manifestation of both physical and transcendent love — the true human hero of the Christian story.

Love, Nick

 

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