Everyone Needs a Model
By Jennifer Ristine
Everyone needs a model, someone whom you can look up to, with whom you feel a sense of solidarity. The sense that someone else has “been there and done that” makes your own journey less daunting. This July 22, Magdala looks to a woman, celebrating the ideal and model that she represents. Mary Magdalene, born into a family over 2000 years ago, continues to be a portavoz of universal messages. She appears in Scriptures as “the woman out of whom Jesus drove out seven demons” (Mk 16:9); as one of the women who accompanied and cared for Jesus and his disciples, providing for them out of their own sustenance (Mk 15:4; Lk 8:1-3); as a steadfast and passionate disciple at the foot of the cross and at the anointing of his body in the tomb (Mt 27:56, Mt 27:61); and as the privileged apostle to the apostles who encountered him as risen and was sent to announce the good news to the apostles (Jn 20:18, Mt 28:9-10).
Early gnostic writings paint her as a protagonist in the mission of the early Church. Church Fathers remembered her in light of her experience of redemption at the hand of Jesus, from sinner to saint, from vice to virtue. Hippolytus in the third century to Gregory of Nyssa and Saint Jerome in the fourth, to Pope Gregory the Great in the sixth century, they offer personal and pastoral reflections the give hope to those struggling to persevere in the Christian life. Through the Middle Ages she is singled out by painters and sculptors as the model of the contemplative penitent, revealing a pathway of intimate participation in the cross of Christ in this life. And finally, our present day brings us to marvel at her many facets and attractions for men and women on the twenty first century. Above all, she stands out as one who encountered the merciful love of the Lord, received that hand he held out to her, and firmly chose to follow him wherever it led. She continues, by her testimony of life, to be a witness to the redemptive love of Jesus Christ. May we ask the Lord, this July 22nd, for the same grace.
Jennifer Ristine is a consecrated woman of Regnum Christi dedicated to spiritual and faith formation through teaching, conferences, writing, and spiritual direction. While serving in Ancient Magdala she wrote Mary Magdalene: Insights from Ancient Magdala and “Nine Days with Mary Magdalene.” Her book will be released in Spanish this summer, 2022.