Today is the feast day of Mary Magdalene. Folks love to speculate about whether Mary Magdalene had an intimate relationship with Jesus. Pope Gregory spurred this trend in 591 by conflating Mary Magdalene with the nameless sinner in chapter 7 of Luke, deemed to be a prostitute.

Speculation about things the Bible does not make clear can distract us from the things it does make clear. We know some very powerful things about Mary Magdalene for certain. Jesus rid her of seven demons (Luke 8:2), and she was among the faithful women who stood by Jesus at the cross. In the Gospel of John, she is the first to actually behold the risen Jesus.

Why seven demons? Pope Gregory speculated this referred to the seven deadly sins, but that list is not part of the Bible. Throughout the Bible, seven symbolizes completeness. Saying that Jesus rid Mary Magdalene of seven demons tells us that she was a complete mess, and he made her completely well.

So, if you feel like you are facing a mess beyond God's reach, think again. Psalm 116 appears in the Daily Office readings today:

The cords of death entangled me;
the grip of the grave took hold of me; ...
Then I called upon the Name of the Lord:
"O Lord, I pray you, save my life." ...

Turn again to your rest, O my soul,
for the Lord has treated you well.
For you have rescued my life from death,
my eyes from tears, and my feet from stumbling. (verses 2-3, 6-7)

Pastor Kathleen Kelly,  
Interim Rector 
Noli me tangere, by Correggio, c. 1525, the risen Christ appears to Mary Magdalene
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