Occasions when we got to-gether were rare, but I came away from time with my friend feeling revitalized. She had a way of listening, encouraging and adding fresh dimensions to our conversation.
How precious. She’s no longer here, but the memories kindle a warmth in my spirit.
When we think about the life of Jesus, do we think about his intimate friendships?
The disciples sat at his feet, listened to his teachings, tended to the daily tasks and tried to control their individual ambitions.
But I’m not sure they had much capacity to provide the nurture and vitality that was as important as daily bread.
The more I read about Mary Magdalene, the more I sense she was an intimate friend. Clues about her come through one of the Coptic Church’s sacred books.
The original manuscript of the Gospel of Mary is only partial, but it reflects thoughts and conversations that might have gone on between Jesus and Mary.
Mary didn’t write the manuscript. But she was there at the crucifixion and the resurrection and beyond these times.
Later, when the disciples were discouraged, or feared for their lives, and as they argued, she must have comforted, challenged and enabled them to carry on.
The manuscript is a composition of what she passed on. It was as if she was directing them in a time of turbulence to follow her commitment and seek the deeper Good.
When we look back on the formation of Christian doctrine, we have the benefit of creeds and prayers, manuscripts and councils.
But in the middle of the second century, when Mary’s Gospel was written, such declarations of faith did not yet exist.
Later the male-dominated Church of the Dark Ages saw to it that input from female church leaders was purged or tainted.
We are indebted to the Coptics for insights into this shared friendship.
Joyce Sasse writes for the Canadian Rural Church Network at www.canadian ruralchurch.net.