Noli me Tangere - Mary Magdalene - EasterSunday, April 21, 2019
20 The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre.
11 But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre,
12 And seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.
13 And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him.
14 And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus.
15 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.
16 Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master.
17 Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.
18 Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that he had spoken these things unto her.
A virginal Mary Magdalene
|Bronwen Marsden as the saintly Mary Magdalene, April 2019|
A virginal Mary Magdalene
This Easter as any other Easter in my life is always time for quiet reflection and to take a stock of where I have come from and where I am going in the short time that I have left.
Obviously I am no longer the youth who came out of a confession booth feeling giddy and purified. Without getting into details into my personal beliefs I can only assert that they have changed.
|Borther Edwin Reggio, C.S.C. with my granddaughters Lauren and Rebecca Stewart|
But after a thorough Roman Catholic education at St. Edward’s High School in Austin, Texas in the late 50s I am able to do what Brother Edwin Reggio, C.S.C. told us was important. This was to put emphasis on the Sacrament of Confirmation which made us soldiers of Christ (not with weapons) but to be able to defend one’s faith by being able to explain it.
In 2005 Rosemary, our granddaughter Rebecca, then 8 and I went to the lovely city of Guanajuato in Mexico. We visited an elaborate Churrigueresque church built by a silver and gold mine, called La Valenciana. Rebecca asked me to explain the Stations of the Cross. This I did. But then she was struck by a large painting featuring Christ and a blonde woman sheltering herself from what seemed to be a stoning by irate men. By Christ’s feet there were some huge stones and boulders.
|Luis Monroy painting at La Valenciana, Guanajuato|
I explained to Rebecca that the woman was Mary of Madgala and that the artist, a Mexican of the late 19th century, Luis Monroy simply portrayed his own personal views on how Christ and Mary looked. Thus Mary is a blonde.
|Rebecca at la Valenciana, 2005|
Because I have a lovely English Rose called Mary Magdalene I have had an affinity for the woman whose rose emerges pink and then ages to a saintly white. I have read José Saramago’s The Gospel According toJesus Christ in which Mary Magdalene teaches Christ to become the man he really is.
I find Mary Magdalene in this 21st century as a proto feminist who many (Christ himself?) considered to be one of His most important apostles.
I have started this blog with a reference to my father’s King James Bible version of the St. John Gospel where we find out that the first person to see Christ is Mary Magdalene. When she is about to verify if He is the risen man he says to her (now a famous expression in Latin), “Noli me tangere,” or “Do not touch me.”
Because this is my personal blog I can diverge in any way I want and I will do so to a 1917 book by my grandfather, Tirso de Irureta Goyena, Por El Idioma y La Cultura Hispanos. My grandfather while not completely disparaging the language of Shakespeare he was an apologist for the Castilian Spanish that the Philippines of his time (after 500 years of Spanish rule) had made it the language on par with the local Tagalog and Visaya. In the book he makes reference to the 19th century Filipino patriot José Risal (who was executed by a firing squad of Spaniards on December 30 1896.
Rizal wrote a novel called Noli Me Tángere about the inequities suffered by Filipinos under Spanish rule.
My grandmother often spoke of Rizal’s book so the expression noli me tangere has been in my vocabulary since. In fact we had a copy of Rizal’s book, written originally in Spanish until some uncle or aunt of mine pinched it.
|Don Tirso de Irureta Goyena|
After having seen the wonderful churches and art of Venice, Siena and Florence a month back I cannot completely remove from my mind the wonders that were all inspired by a religion that seems to be in the wane like many others. Those cathedrals soared to the skies centuries before human soared to the moon. Those cathedrals will not be built again but they are there to remind us at the possibilities that we humans have in ourselves to build stuff that surpasses our earthly bound gravity.
In times of moral decadence and political corruption Easter is a good time to think of a woman, with the intentions of anointing the body of a dead man, who is surprised by a living one. It is a story that may not be explained logically and that some will tell you needs faith, but that in some way is a basic story of simple beauty.