Have you seen The Chosen?
That’s the question that’s been on the lips of Christians for months now. If you’re unfamiliar, it’s the first multi-season series on the life of Christ. Jesus is played by a devout Catholic, Jonathon Roumie, who has been leading rosaries, divine mercy chaplets, and holy hours on Facebook and Instagram live throughout this quarantine. The show all crowd funded and free to watch on YouTube and on The Chosen app.
I bring it up because it it’s worth the watch. I bring it up today because of Jesus’ relationship with Mary Magdalene. You can see Jesus’s love for her. You can see the pain He feels her very pain. You can see how lifechanging their first encounter is. She is a different woman after, and not simply because He freed her from the demons which possessed her. She is altogether changed. She is empowered to be her true self. By her witness and encouragement, others are brought to Christ.
But it is critical to remember that everything that Mary Magdalene does, in the show or in the Scriptures, is rooted first in that encounter with the one, true God that is Jesus Christ, and then from the intimate friendship that resulted. Mary’s friendship with Jesus defined her life. Everything she did was because He loved her and she loved Him. It’s that deep friendship that led her to the tomb to mourn on that Easter Sunday.
Now this scene hasn’t come to pass yet in The Chosen, but as I imagine this scene I don’t see her standing and shedding a few quiet tears so as to not disturb those around her in the garden. I see her full force ugly crying. Her best friend, her Beloved, the very Son of God, was murdered, brutally. The one who restored her dignity is gone. Her entire world seems to be falling apart. Not only that, but when she gets to the tomb she finds that someone has gone so far in their disrespect and disregard for her Lord that they stole His body. Imagine that grief.
One word. One beautiful word that reminds her she is loved. She is known. Hope is not lost.
This one word for her is the entire Gospel. Because if Jesus says this word, then Jesus must be alive. Jesus who was dead is alive! The powers of darkness are defeated! Their only control over us was death and Jesus has shown that He is more powerful.
Teacher. Mary recognizes her dear friend. She knows that she must learn from Him. It is not enough to “love” Him and not be changed by that love. If He is a teacher, she must be a disciple. In the words of St. Paul in the first reading, “the love of Chris impels (her).”
As I sit in my office and write this blog, tears literally stream down my face. Mary Magdalene was a real woman. She lives now in heaven interceding for me. Interceding for you. The Love she encountered was real, the Love that made her an apostle to the apostles. She had the privilege of walking with Christ on earth. She has the privilege of witnessing to her intimate friendship with Jesus now through the Scriptures. If her friendship with Jesus was real, then I can have the same intimacy.
I think of dear friends who have shared with me their own intimacy with Jesus. The ways He has loved them. As they share an intimate moment from their friendship with Jesus, many times I’m sure they don’t realize how He uses it to draw me closer to Himself. How they challenge me to be changed by Love, who is Christ Himself.
Thank you. Thank you, Mary Magdalene, for telling the apostles about Jesus Christ risen from the dead. Thank you, apostles, for telling the world about Jesus Christ risen from the dead. Without them, I wouldn’t have met my Beloved. Thank you, my dear friends, for telling me about Jesus. Without you, I wouldn’t have met my Beloved.
-Amanda Benner, Director of Evangelization