There are many people that can inspire and influence us. They can be people that we know or someone who we have seen, listened to, watched or read about. We may share similarities with them, or it can be through our differences that they impact and affect us. We can be influenced by what they do, inspired by what they have achieved and challenged by how they live.
For over 2,000 the Church has remembered and past on stories and examples of other Christians who’s lives add to our understanding of what it means to follow Jesus. We call them Saints and throughout the year the Church reflects on different ones on set dates.
I have found a new person who both intrigues and inspires me, when I was asked to lead a service on the day that the Church remembers Mary Magdalene, a woman who was known to be “over-friendly” and followed Jesus around.
Except, that is not who she was. Mary was in fact healed by Jesus and she went on to support his work, underwriting his traveling ministry. She was part of the wider group of Jesus’ followers. Rather than being just a hanger-on, Mary was the first person to see Jesus alive after his death and she was sent by Jesus, to tell the disciples that Jesus was back!
Over the years, the Church had mis-understood and mis-represented who Mary was and her significant role in the good news of Jesus. This was one of the things about Mary, that struck me.
It is clear from the Bible, who Mary was and what she did. Yet, that was not how people saw her. We can be easily pigeon-holed by others, who can only see us in a certain light. The way that they think about us can limit their expectations of us and this can eat away at our own self-esteem. Yet, we can so easily do the same to others. Not listening to what certain people say, because we know what they are like and we have heard it all before.
For me, Mary Magdalene is a reminder that who we truly are is not restricted by the limited view of others, but it is defined by what we do for God and how God sees us. Mary’s actions live on and so will ours. Mary chose to say yes to what God was doing through Jesus. The challenge for us is what will we choose to do and how will that impact others, no matter how people view us.