Mary and all the saints

Friday was the feast of St Mary Magdalene, the apostle to the apostles. It was Mary Magdalene who took the news of Jesus’s resurrection to his friends and followers; she was the first to believe the magnificence of the news she bore, and to share the good new with those closest to Jesus.

What does it say about our faith that the apostle to the apostles was an outcast, a woman in a patriarchal society, likely unmarried — at least, we never hear about a husband — following an itinerant preacher who himself stepped out of the boundaries of polite society to minister and bring the love of God to the outcast, the rejects, the unclean and the sinners. The Creator of the universe didn’t send the message of the resurrection with angelic heralds, or a lauded prophet, or a richly robed religious authority. It was a woman, an outcast, a lone voice who first told the news that the Lord had risen from the dead, was among them again — and the message was then carried by a group of ragtag fishermen, unknown and unimportant and utterly vital to the salvation of the world.

It is that message — that the resurrected Christ continues to love and sustain the world, and asks us to love and sustain each other — that we now carry, two thousand-odd years later. And Mary Magdalene reminds us that we are charged with the message of the good news regardless of status, of popularity, of our position in the world. God works with and through the fearful, the timid, the arrogant, the important and those the world considers nothing, just as Mary Magdalene was. God works with and through the cathedral choir of Newcastle, Australia, and right now God is working with and through us in a small green and rainy country on the other side of the planet.

One of the ways we are privileged to have of sharing the good news is through our music. Every day for the next week, and then every Sunday when we get back home, we climb into our robes and warm up our voices and sing our faith. We sing the psalms, the great music of humanity’s longing for God. We lead congregations in the hymns of our tradition. We sing anthems of love and of praise for our Creator and Sustainer. We are honoured to sing the prayers of the Mass and the canticles of Evensong. And we get to do that every week.

Sometimes we forget the great responsibility we have been charged with, and the great honour of singing to the Source of love in the world. But God works with our imperfections, with our nobilities and flaws, and every time we sing we are singing God’s presence and love in the world. In doing that, we join with Mary Magdalene and all the saints as they sing the eternal praises of Heaven.

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