The National Catholic Review
Sixteenth Sunday of the Year C
Luke 10: 38-42 In 1999 I met an elderly Dominican at the Sainte Baume, the holy cave in Provence, the beautiful Cezanne region in the south of France, where tradition has it that Mary Magdalene, having labored for the evangelization of the region, retired into solitude and prayer. The old man argued vehemently with my skeptical French Jesuit companion for the authenticity of the tradition. The demythologizers suggest that in the persecution-driven dispersal of the 1st century Church, members of a community associated with Mary Magdalene arrived in Provence and laid the foundations of faith. Our OP would have none of it: she was there, a true disciple of the Lord, sent out just like the others. Certainly it is a holy place, hallowed by prayer, pilgrimage and faith, but was she actually there? I would assume our Dominican friend would have agreed with Pope Gregory the Great (and disagreed with the Eastern churches who have separate feasts for the two Marys) that Mary Magdalene and Mary of Bethany were one and the same person. Luke’s depiction of Mary of Bethany sitting at the Lord’s feet and being commended for choosing the better part would fit with his view. For while the bustling Martha’s serene and immobile sister has been enlisted in the service of the cloistered tradition ever since there have been cloisters, the one who sits at the feet of the Lord and ’listened to him speaking’ is surely in fact more the itinerant disciple than the proto-monastic religious. The disciple is the one who, once having imbibed the Lord’s teaching and experienced his resurrection, is sent out onto the road to share it with others, moving from still and focused listening, to a dynamic pouring forth of Good News perhaps even more energetic than Martha’s dramatic culinary exertions. Chris Chatteris, S.J.

Comments

Anonymous | 7/23/2007 - 7:54pm
It's "Mary of Magdala."