the tears and strength of mary magdalene

Then Mary wept and said to Peter, My brother Peter, what do you think? Do you think that I have thought this up myself in my heart, or that I am lying about the Savior? – The Gospel of Mary

I’ve been thinking of this a lot lately, as well as places in the canonical gospels, where we learn of Mary Magdalene weeping.

As a witness to the crucifixion, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, Mary’s tears are certainly understandable. It is within the context of this conversation with Peter that I find Mary’s weeping to be particularly compelling.

She’s speaking people who should be her friends, she’s telling them something of great importance, and she isn’t believed. She isn’t welcomed. She’s met, in fact, with hostility.

In this moment, what does Mary feel?

Frustration? Fear? Exhaustion?

I can relate.

What I love about this moment is how Mary weeps in front of Peter.

She is wholly herself in this moment.

He has hurt her and instead of putting on a brave face or attempting to manipulate the situation, she allows her emotions to be seen.

In our patriarchal culture, we have a tendency to think of strength as stoic and emotionless.

Never let them see you sweat. Never let them see you cry. Man up. Buck up. Chin up.

But what Mary Magdalene models for us here is a different sort of strength. A feminine strength.

She is who she is and she allows herself to be vulnerable, to be fully seen.

And there is an undeniable strength in that. The strength of authenticity.

I think of times in my own life when I have felt betrayed by my emotions, when I have felt exposed.

I think of my skin flushing pink, the tears welling in my eyes.

I think of my scratchy throat or my trembling hands.

Mary Magdalene asks, “So what?” She says, “Be.”

What she models for us is a strength that comes from presence and self-awareness, from speaking a personal and global truth.

How often do we hide our emotions, or some aspect of ourselves, and what might happen if we didn’t?