Two Women of Great Faith
Rev. Simeon Stefanidakis
consider the life and ministry of Jesus, most people envision him walking
through the hillside and the cities of Judea, followed by his disciples. “Jesus
and the Twelve” is an expression commonly heard throughout time; and,
for many, that represents the whole of his earthly mission.
men --- Simon (called Peter), Andrew, James, John, Philip, Judas (son of
James), Nathaniel (called Bartholomew), Matthew, Thomas, James, Simon the
Zealot, and Judas Iscariot -- were chosen by Christ to follow him, to
become his disciples and, after his death, to spread the good news of the
Gospel throughout their travels.
men who shared life with Jesus: who shared food with Jesus; who shared
that fateful last Passover Supper with Jesus; who guarded and defended
Jesus; who stood by him through thick and thin; who were there while he
hung nailed upon the cross, and who honored his body with ointments and
fine linens while it lay within the tomb. Yes, Jesus and the Twelve
Apostles; one reason why Catholicism and Orthodoxy demand that only men be
ordained into the priesthood. “Make disciples of the world and spread
the Gospel” were the instructions given to the Twelve by the Resurrected
It is a
wonderful history, full of hope, daring, faith, miracles and challenge.
But, is it the whole story? Today, we know it is not. Today, even though
we know there were twelve noted disciples of Christ, we also know that
women played an integral role in his life and ministry.
Christians, it is hard to picture Jesus hanging around women, let alone
confiding and entrusting them to the degree that he did with the chosen
twelve. But, he did. Furthermore, the two people who most likely had the
greatest impact on Jesus were women: two women; two Mary's; Mary, his
mother; and Mary Magdalene.
the mother of Jesus. When the angel Gabriel came to this simple woman, the
course and the destiny of Human events changed forever. God had found favor
in this simple woman of faith. God knew Mary had been brought up, trained,
and dedicated by her Essence brothers and sisters just for this monumental
announcement and pronouncement from Gabriel, a messenger of God. Gabriel
knew that Mary would not shun the seemingly strange news which he was about
to enunciate to her, even though, at first, it would perplex her.
world was in a mess. People were wandering through the desert of life: lifeless;
devoid of Spirit; lost in their faith; convinced that the God of Abraham
was no more; aimlessly trying to grab hold of any little trinket that might
give them some form of spiritual solace and succor. Political partisanship
and nepotism were plaguing the Temple Hierarchy, and that Hierarchy was
cemented in stone tablets, unable, through its own apathy and need to
control, to minister to the needs of the people.
then, one day, it happened. Gabriel, an Angel of the Lord, comes to this
Jewish girl and proclaims to her: “Hail, favored one! The Lord is
with you.” He continues by saying: “Do not be afraid, Mary;
for you have found favor with God. And behold you will conceive in your
womb, and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great, and
will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the
throne of His father David.”
responded to the angel: “How can this be?” Imagine how you
would feel if such an event took place before your eyes and ears. You can
almost feel her confusion. And the angel said to Mary: “The Holy
Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow
you.” Gabriel then continued by saying: “Your relative Elizabeth
has also conceived a son; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth
God, how can this be? Gabriel knew Mary's confusion
and her concern. And his response is one which has echoed throughout
history. His response reflects a reality which has uplifted Humanity since
the dawn of time, and one which we must embrace when we, too, are
confronted with the seemingly impossible tasks of life.
Mary asked, in frustration: How can this be? Gabriel responded: “Nothing
is impossible with God!”
If we do
not place our faith and trust in God, the Father of the spirits, then how
can we place faith in ourselves, the spirits?
is impossible with God! It was at that moment that Mary
knew. Truth and reality had been revealed, and she was ready to receive and
to accept. She was ready to go and to do! It was at
that timeless moment in time that she responded to Gabriel's salutation in
one of the most lovely, humble, and simple statements of faith found in
Scripture. “Behold, the bondmaiden of the Lord; be it done to me
according to Your word.”
a profound effect upon her son. She nurtured him and raised him to be a
true and honorable messenger for the living Christ. Through her simple
faith and dedication to God and God's promise made to her ancestral Nation,
Mary laid before Jesus the foundation stones upon which would eventually be
built a ministry of Cosmic proportions and impact.
mother of Jesus, was a beacon light of faith, trust, hope, love,
nourishment, and strength; and she passed on each of these traits to her
beloved son. That was, and still is, her legacy to Jesus, the man, and
Christ, the Spirit. And it can be the legacy which we all inherit from this
remarkable woman, if we look at Mary, mother of Jesus, as a young Jewish
maiden who, ultimately, became a channel of love and nurturing for men and
women of all faiths. That’s the key: lift this woman up above her Jewish
heritage and her Christian legacy and you touch the true essence of Mary.
Jesus was preaching to the people of Judea, endeavoring to shed God's Light
into their hearts and souls; when Jesus was preaching the Gospel of Love,
Compassion, and Forgiveness, another Mary entered his life.
this Mary was not a mother. She was not a woman of honor. She was not a
woman of any kind of position. She was not a woman of pride or of dignity.
She was scorned by others, especially the elders of the Temple. She was a
sinner; some would say a prostitute or, at the very least, an adulteress.
She was everything that Mary, mother of Jesus, was not.
contrast to the honor and integrity of his mother. But, the mother of Jesus
demonstrated to her son kindness, love and, above all, forgiveness.
And when the men of Judea were about to inflict punishment upon this
wayward sinner, Jesus looked upon them and made a most profound suggestion
as a means of initiating such punishment. He said: “Let he who is
without sin cast the first stone.” Oh, how we all need to have
these simple words etched within our hearts and souls: “Let he who is
without sin cast the first stone.”
Magdalene followed Christ and become one of his most loyal apostles. Some
say she understood Jesus more than the chosen twelve, and I tend to agree.
There has been much speculation concerning the exact relationship between
Jesus and Mary Magdalene. Personally, I think it went no further than
Master-Disciple relationship, and that is more than sufficient.
Mother of Jesus, represents faith, love, hope, expectation, and the Advent
of Light. Mary Magdalene represents healing, rebirth, and transformation
through the power of loving forgiveness.
were there at the time of his crucifixion, and both witnessed the wonder
and the mystery of the empty tomb. And who else but the woman whose life
was transformed from sinner to disciple would the resurrected
Christ choose first to show himself? It could only be Mary Magdalene, whose
life represented everything which Jesus was sent to earth to help us
accomplish within our own lives. She was, truly, reborn of the Spirit.
Bible is full of angelic and Spirit visitation, most of which beckon people
to arise, go out, and do something . . . witness for
what God and Spirit show us. Throughout history, Spirit has come to us, in
times of trouble and frustration, to offer us hope, guidance, and a helping
hand in our travels. And this time is no different.
annunciations are as real and alive, today, as they were when Gabriel
it be an angel from the Lord or a loved-one in Spirit, let us be grateful
for all that Spirit has done for us! Let us praise God and His Holy Spirit
and the Spirit of Life which He infuses into our spirits! Regardless of
faith, let us be thankful for the gift of Jesus Christ, for it a gift for
all Humanity! It began with the annunciations. It continues with the
annunciations. It began with an Old Testament. It continues with a New Testament.
are three annunciations that are of profound import in the New Testament:
Angel Gabriel enunciated to Mary “Hail, favored one; the Lord is with
you” and revealed that she was to be the bearer of the Christ
Simeon, as the Christ child was being taken from the Temple, after being
presented to the Lord, proclaimed, “Lord, let your servant depart in
peace, according to your Word, for my eyes have seen your salvation which
You have prepared before all people.”
the empty tomb, when Mary Magdalene proclaimed to Heaven and Earth: “He
like to share a comment made by a minister of the Christian Right - which,
in my humble opinion, is nether Christian nor Right. You may
have heard before, as he spoke of the September 11th tragedy:
believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the
gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative
lifestyle had much to do with this tragedy. I point the finger in all their
faces and say, ‘you helped this happen.’”
what Jesus taught us? Is this what these great annunciations heralded in
for the world? Is this the healing, grace, and forgiveness reflected
within the life of Mary Magdalene? Is this stigma, which has been cut so
deeply into the soul of Jesus Christ, to be borne by him for eternity?
to look around us, today, as we struggle through the very same issues which
our Jewish brothers and sisters struggled over 20 centuries ago. And in
that looking, we need to hear the voice of God, the voice of Christ, and
the voice of Spirit, as they endeavor to annunciate to the world yet
another proclamation of joy, hope, life eternal, and salvation for all
cannot and must not allow the din of war to overshadow the good news
of peace. We cannot and must not allow the shadows of ignorance to
darken the light of the Soul. We cannot and must not allow the
seemingly endless proclamations of evil and divine damnation to harden our
hearts and poison our minds. For if we do, the poison of prejudice will,
surely, be our downfall.
honor and remember Jesus, his beloved mother, Mary, and his companion and
Disciple, Mary Magdalene. Two Mary's. Two souls from totally opposite
ends of life and society came together and, through the love and salvation
of faith and forgiveness, they joined forces with a Messiah in a truly
ways, the two Mary's in the life of our brother, Jesus, represent the two
aspects of our journey. Mary, mother of Jesus, and Mary Magdalene reside
within each one of us. But the loving goodness, mercy, and forgiveness of
God can surely transform and heal us all, to the point where once we may
have blocked the Light of the Spirit, we can now become part of that Light
and that Light part of us.
Mary, Mother of Jesus, who said: “Behold, the bondmaiden of the Lord;
be it done to me according to Your word.”
was Mary Magdalene who proclaimed to the whole of Creation: “He is
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