Today, in honor of the Feast of Mary Magdalene, I am sharing with you an excerpt from my upcoming novel, Song of the Beloved – a Memoir of Mary Magdalene. While the role of Mary Magdalene has been critically redacted in canonical scripture, non-canonical texts point toward a more prominent role of Mary, the Magdalene, in Jesus’ ministry. Many even suggest a more intimate relationship,something akin to marriage. After vigorous studies of the ancient texts, Jean Yves LeLoup, Tau Malachi and Cynthia Bourgeault concur on this point supporting their thesis by quoting the early church fathers, “that which is not lived, is not redeemed.” If Jesus came to redeem the whole human experience, then is it too much to believe that this may have included human sexuality and intimate human relationship and that in order to do so, he had to have lived these experiences? For some, it will be too much to hear of a Jesus who differs from the celibate, single male that has been presented to us by the Church, others will breathe a sigh of relief to hear of a Jesus who may have been married and who may have enjoyed sexual intimacy with his wife. Since none of the texts are completely clear on the subject (and why would they be on a topic of such intimacy, or one so culturally obvious?), this is ultimately something we must decide for ourselves. Without further ado…..the Marriage of the Magdalene:
Upon Martha’s insistence, I remained in my room so that I could prepare my heart and mind for what lay ahead. Around three in the afternoon, I heard a gentle knock on my door. Salome peeked her head in, “The Galilean brothers are soon to arrive. May I help you dress?” She gave me a quick and knowing smile which I returned with gratitude. Salome entered and proceeded to dress me in my bridal attire. From deep within her own robes she pulled out a carefully wrapped package. She offered me the package and invited me to open it. Within were a pair of golden earrings, jeweled hair wraps and ribbons; golden bangles and an ankle bracelet. “I want you to have these,” she looked at me lovingly. “Lady Chuza presented these to me as a gift at the awakening of my womanhood. I now know I shall never again need these adornments and I’d love for you to wear them on your sacred day.” Speechless, I gratefully accepted her gifts. After she wove the ribbons and hair wraps into my hair and attached the veil upon my head, I was ready.
Just as we were finishing, I heard the clamor of arriving guests. Salome gestured for me to wait here while she went to greet them. I turned my ears to listen to the voices and conversations in the other room. I heard Lazarus greeting our guests and introductions being made. I heard the group settling at table to await the ceremonial washing. I dared to peek out the door and could glimpse Lazarus preparing to wash our visitors’ feet. Just as he was about to proceed, Jesus approached him, took the basin and towel and moved toward the tables. They were now outside my line of vision, but I could hear the stunned silence as Jesus approached to offer the ceremonial washing. A few moments passed while Jesus moved around the table. Interrupting this solemn ritual Simon’s gruff voice burst forth, “You shall not wash my feet Lord, it is I who should wash your feet!”
“Simon, I will say it again, if you are unable to allow me to wash your feet, you have not yet been purified of your false self and will receive no inheritance through me.”
“Then Lord, wash my hands and head as well,” was Simon’s reply.
“Simon, you ask me to provide the ritual washing of one fully purged of the illusion of separation. By your request, yet again you have shown me that you remain in the world of illusion and imprisoned by your pride. Your feet alone shall I wash.”
“As you wish it Lord,” Simon replied in humbled tones.
After washing Simon’s feet, Jesus continued with the other guests. Just as I heard the sound of Jesus reclining at table, Martha gently knocked and peeked in at me. “Mary, it is time.” Martha opened the door and along with Salome and Jesus’ mother, Mary, began to sing the bridal hymn. I felt strangely self-conscious – all this ceremony for a “marriage” that I knew would most likely never truly come to pass. I entered the center room as the women – the others now joining in, offered the hymn. With the veil covering my face, I looked around at our guests and saw a mixture of surprise, disgust and enthusiastic welcome. I was tempted to give into my own fears of unworthiness and sinfulness, but heard Jesus’ voice in my mind, “Mary look not to those who would judge. Look to me, who loves you beyond all measure.” I lifted my eyes to meet Jesus’ gaze and was comforted by his passionate smile and the twinkle of joyful regard in his eyes. I approached my beloved, now seated at table, bowed to him, and kneeling before him, removed the lid from the jar of blessed nard, poured a generous amount into my hands and anointed his head, his face, his hands and his feet. I gently kissed the feet of my beloved. I rose my head to face him and just as he was about to raise my veil to offer the marriage kiss, there was a pounding on the table. Jesus and I looked up, startled, toward the explosion and beheld Simon, red-faced and standing. “What is the meaning of this!?” he shouted. “Why has there been this waste of expensive oil. It could have sold for more than a hundred days’ wages and the money given to the poor.”
Jesus responded, “Simon. Leave her alone. Why do you feel compelled to constantly make trouble with Mary? She has done a good thing for me. First she has become my wife, now she has anointed my body for burial. Amen, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed to the world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.” Jesus gently lifted my veil and kissed me on the mouth. With the exception of Simon, who sulked in the corner, all offered the marriage blessing.