we spend our life trying to become, but the beauty is in the unbecoming

October 22, 2017

Feminist Jesus by the Sea of Galilee (March 2017, Israel)

Shabbat shalom. I’ve been in Israel for two days now and have managed to cover a bunch of Jesus classics, from Nazareth, to Capernaum, to the hill where he may have spoken the Beatitudes, to Magdala. Oh and the Sea of Galilee, nbd. I jest with the nbd part because most of this has felt like a huge deal. My brief blogs written over a weak internet connection obviously cannot convey the depth of emotion that are behind each of these sites. But I’ll try. ;)
I’ll speak to Magdala today. Our group rolls up on this ancient, recently excavated town after a long day of sightseeing behind us. A pleasant priest meets us at the ruin site of what is one of the few first century synagogues discovered in Israel, next to the Sea of Galilee. For those like me who don’t know why this is a bfd, it means it was around when Jesus was walking the earth. The priest proceeds takes us through a day in the life of the synagogue and town. After exploring the ruins, he leads us to a church upstairs that is dedicated to women. Holy Mother of God. A Catholic Church, dedicated to women?!?!
It gets better people. One of the side chapels was dedicated to Mary Magdalene–“magdalene” as in she was from Magdala. This Catholic priest then proceeds to ask us to look at a mosaic of Mary M, and classify her. A woman. A prostitute. Poor. Dirty. Needy. Then, he invited us to picture our own lives and the lives of those we see day to day, and classify them. 
Who have we labeled without knowing them? If Jesus called Mary Magdalene to be his disciple, who else does he call?
I wept (mostly inside, though I think my nose turned red and I started to snot some), at this idea that we are all loved equally. My feminist mind knows this, but my heart felt overwhelmed hearing it from a cis white Catholic priest.
It’s not a new message. But it’s radical. And when I hear it and see it represented in a beautiful space of worship over the site of a church and city that Jesus may have graced during his ministry, I am reminded that love is messy, irrational, anti-status quo, but is exactly the heart of God.
Happy International Women’s Day. Pics of Magdala to follow in my next post.
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