Maria de Magdala, warm russet tones was her hair cascading in swirls to her waist as her crown of femininity. She often wore it loose to cover her shoulders and shade her curious eyes. Clear brown with a sparkle of intelligence and trained to explore everything within their reach. She had a semi-full face, not in a fatty sense, but simply as a feminine blessing. She was set apart by a flawless skin throughout in a delicate shade of glowing mellow tan. Her lips were often tinted with a rich berry stain causing men to sharpen their attention. Perhaps even wish to taste her inviting smile. Yes, she flirted. She was proud of her feminine attributes and was known to leave admirers craving lustfully for her attention. Graceful arms and long slender fingers she used to draw attention in stylish poses. Knowledgeable men would call her, “theatrical”. An aspiraing actress in quest of attention. Other men, the masters of opinions without solid base would think of less complimentary names to hang on Mary of Magdala. She knew the names they called her and all the masculine insinuations. The kingpins of malice did not look upon her intelligence near as much as they did her feminine attributes and financial assets. Selfishly they fantasized playing with her body and never gave thought to the treasures in her mind. Her social position was far more secure than most men in quest of a daily coin. Her inherited fortune was well known and various men made serious efforts to acquire some or all of her wealth by plot, ploy and scheme. And when she did not fall victim to their efforts gave spiteful men an even greater reason to invent names she did not deserve. A part of her inheritance was the Fortress Magdala on the Northern shores of the Sea of Galilee. It was more properly identified as a castle and not so much a military fort. It hosted a pickling plant for fish. It was a substantial industry that supported the region and Mary of Magdala earned a respectable percentage of the proceeds. Along with several other businesses on her property. It was a boat building and repair center and various other craftsmen related to the sea trade conducted their business there. Sail makers found favorable income from the location. Men looking for work were always nearby. Vendors of food, tools and supplies made daily journeys to that Mecca of industry plying their wares.
Mary of Magdala knew well that marriage would deliver her fortune into her husband’s hands. She would be owned body and fortune and would develop calluses from fighting the bonds of matrimony. Marriage promised to be a torment and not a blissful union. No! She would not marry just anybody. An unselfish man to champion her interests for their mutual comfort would be difficult to find. The qualified men she knew of in Judea were all taken. Nobody gave thought to the possibility that her socializing ways were a search for the right man. It was obvious she ignored the scorn and names she did not deserve for a deeper cause. It would be fair to say that she had a right to think, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” When all her ill noted fallacies were counted one more fault could find a place among the gossipers. “Eat your heart out. Don’t you wish you were me?” Given an appropriate label would make Mary of Magdala “an intelligent woman far ahead of her time.
We must not forget that Mary of Magdala was a cherished infant. Her father and mother were proud of her and loved her dearly. Their wealth afforded the means to provide for the child all she desired and or needed. It’s possible she rose to be a spoiled little girl. With such a lavish childhood she never knew to be otherwise. Being a girl never inhibited her quest for knowledge and she consumed her lessons with zeal.
Typical of the wealthy and in due course she became a victim of extravagance in attire, food and the company she kept. She liked music and was known to twirl in compliance to a provocative tune. She attended countless banquets with notable people and was criticized for meeting her social obligations with exceptional enthusiasm. It was her place to attend and be part of the social scene. Without asking, all this was all laid at her feet. More importantly was the fact that her education and her views on life were reflections of parental guidance. Lessons tuned into her by her loving mother and father. The demands of the time forbade her parents to lead their child into a sordid future. Parental guidance was her parent’s quest in life. Mary went to the temple school where she socialized with girls her age and in that guarded ambience laid another portion of her education. Environmental training was not known by such a label in those days so long ago. But it existed nonetheless. Her childhood was programmed from several directions into a path of righteousness. Not a life of immoral sin.
She became a woman of respectable knowledge in the arts, philosophy and history. She was an avid student of the works of the current daily Gods. The story of Isis and Osiris was an enormous fascination. Throughout the ages young girls have been known to fantasize about such love stories and apply it to themselves. She imagined the love of Isis so deep as to call on all the available godly powers to resurrect her lover/brother. It was said that Mary of Magdala frequented the temple of Isis and people could only guess at the inner workings of that cult. She was human and had on occasion coveted items of interest to her active mind. She was female and could be jealous of other beautiful faces. And yes, she also suffered from vanity, she deserved it. She was attractive and men’s desire for her was clear testament to her beauty. It fed her personality without malice. Self centered men filled with inflated egos did not attract her attention. Badges of dubious honor decorating manly chests were simply toys the boys gained to acquire synthetic attention. Real men of honor did not need such credits on display. Mary of Magdala had been said to play a youthful romantic game or two. Although her history does not record such events it was inevitable. Like all of us, she responded to the biological urges of her developing body. She was attractive, she had money, she was young and the world was full of randy males of all ages. It is also wise to accept that the world was populated by women with the name, Mary. Among them was a woman accused of betraying her marital vows another was known to be a woman of the night and may have been spared from stoning by Jesus. Mary of Magdala had been raised to be home and account to her family when night fell.
Worse than all that, the world was populated by men that would have their way at the expense a woman’s reputation and refuse to accept the thinking mind within her. Women were legal possessions of men, like his dog, his horse or his flocks of sheep. Not so, Maria de Magdala. Her father was a rich and respectable spokesperson in the wheel of government throughout Judea. He had wanted a son to enrich his family name with military glory. Instead, he was assigned a daughter Martha, a lively child with unlimited imagination. Her childhood quest for knowledge was the spark that urged her father, Syrus to educate the child beyond his own limits. He and the children’s mother, Eucharis programmed themselves to give their offspring the greatest gift a parent can give their children, knowledge. Then followed Lazarus and finally Mary. Fiery oratories were often Syrus’ and their private tutors classroom lessons to his children. No child of his would grow up to be called a brainless dolt. It was a sound endeavor that would deliver wondrous results later.
From her father Mary learned the power of self esteem. And she adhered to it for all her life. She turned away from baseless rumors whispered behind her back. Her visits to the temple of Isis were rich fodder for the gossip mongers. It was easier to invent rumors than it was to verify a fact. Testament to that effect remains unchallenged; she had a heart full of love and a mind with which to think. Her devotion to a given cause had no in between. Where she aimed her attention was a target achieved with no hesitation or reserve. Men of the time were not able to grasp that ability in a simple female. Few would ever know what a remarkable woman she was. Mary of Magdala. Magdalene, so named by Iesus of Nazareth. Even the Christ was yet to learn.
At the demise of her father Syrus, his wealth was equally divided among his children. Parental efforts to educate their children was a benefit enjoyed by Martha, now the manager of their wealth. A responsibility that would have sapped their holdings considerably were it placed in a stranger’s hands. Martha was very careful in all matters of money. She was called frugal and even miserly, but her family interests were her prime concern and not public opinion.
Dumbstruck by astonishment, unable to speak Samuel stood before a woman with a saintly glow. Her neat full length robe was a masterpiece of stylish folds. Her stride was a graceful glide and not a humanly pace. She put out her hand to Samuel and in that delicate grasp he felt her spirit flow into his like a welcome symphony of angelic whispers. She wore her hair to shoulder length and cleverly pinned to stay in casual swirls around her face, like a picture frame.
“I heard of your good fortune in finding your father so long lost to you. I was fascinated by the tales of your trip to China. I always thought that China could only be reached by sea. I was even more fascinated to learn you actually walked to China. I would like to hear about all that from you.” Magdalene’s quest for knowledge had just flung the doors open to Samuel’s inquiry about Iesus of Nazareth.
Like a business agreement they struck a silent bargain. Magdalene would relate her knowledge of the Nazarene and possibly recruit him to be a disciple while Samuel would recount his adventures to China. Volumes of knowledge have been exchanged by this method since the dawn of time. There remained an awesome obstacle. How was Samuel going to postpone his commitment to the Procurator of Rome because he was going to spend time with a woman of ill repute? Samuel had become a part-time audience of tavern scholars. Even though Magdalene did not convey even a speck of her reputation, the invented falsehoods were nonetheless there.
As if she read his thoughts Magdalene injected a workable solution to a problem not yet heard. “Newly based with your family and most likely searching for a place of your own, feel free to call on me when your time is right and we’ll explore each other’s store of knowledge. I’m anxious to hear your adventures but I too have obligations I must meet regarding the works of the Nazarene. The poor must be attended and the sick must be made well. I have limited medical knowledge, but what I do know has proven surprisingly useful. I often ask the Nazarene to lead my thoughts in helping the sick. The people need to know about the kingdom of heaven and I must guide his apostles in that direction. But, you’ve made a friend and I look forward to our visits.”
The way home was pocked with countless questions and new observations. This could not possibly be the woman so rudely spoke of on the streets. There was not a trace of sinful abandon on the face and actions of Magdalene, apostle to the apostles of the Nazarene. Samuel never had occasion to think of angels and saints or things of that nature. But without a closer more intelligent description, this Magdalene woman could be one of them or all of them. Her voice was crisp and clean and melodious with a semblance of humility and devotion. Her words were beacons of attention delivered in softly flow. It would take considerable time to adjust to his new image of Magdalene. Little did he know that her visits to the temple of Isis now served as a model for her to follow? When speaking of god and godly deeds there need not be a storm to deliver a godly message. Her calm reached far into young Samuel. It reflected a deep seated devotion in a way not known to young Sam. It was her allegiance and faith firmly harnessed to the chariot of Jesus that Samuel was too far removed to fully understand.
Not she with traitorous kiss her master stung,
Not she denied him with unfaithful tongue.
She, when apostles fled, could dangers brave,
Last at the cross and first at the grave.
She was the first herald of his resurrection.
Maria Magdalena. Apostle of Jesus of Nazareth, the son of God.[Previous Episode] [Next Episode]