Volume 16 - Issue 12
December 2018
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Posted on: Dec 24, 2018

Mary Magdalene - An Example For The Apostles

By Mr John Behner

Mr John Behner first came into Swami's fold in 1979 and since then has been serving the Sai movement through different roles, as Bal Vikas teacher, Center President, Central Council President and Zone Chairman of Latin America since 1995, to name a few.

Apart from being a successful businessman owning the first frozen food company in Central America, he has also worked for 20 years as a country manager in a multinational food company. After his retirement in 2005, he has been working full-time for the Sathya Sai International Organization in several roles such as Disaster Relief Co-Chairman for the Sri Sathya Sai World Foundation since 2013 and Assistant Secretary of the Prasanthi Council. He is the president of the Sai Foundation of El Salvador since 1989. He has had the unique blessing of being the co-ordinator of the Christmas celebrations at Prasanthi Nilayam for 13 years.

In this article he describes the life of Mary Magdalene and her teachings (which was the message she received from Jesus Christ) and how it is essentially same as that of Bhagawan.

Is there another person in the narrative of the life of Jesus, who is more controversial than Jesus himself? 

Yes, there is, it is Mary Magdalene whose history has been twisted and manipulated without basis of fact. 

In those days, people only had one name, so they were identified with the place where they resided or from where they came. Mary Magdalene was no exception. She came from Magdala, a village some distance from Capernaum, the city where she first encountered Jesus. 

Magdala was a fishing village on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee. Rumour and speculation have it that her father was a king. He had several palaces. But the Romans led by Herod came and destroyed his kingdom. They tortured and killed all of Mary’s family except her sister and some lady friends.  Mary and her sister escaped to Magdala and were hiding there until they were able to travel by boat across the Sea of Galilee and arrive in Capernaum. 

When she met Jesus for the first time, He blessed her seven times, and all the pain and trauma of losing her entire family left her. The Bible stories of Luke and Mark are not true, He did not cast out any devils from her. As to reports she was a prostitute, these were invented by Pope Gregory in his Homily 33 issued in 591 AD.  The Pope said that the demons were seven deadly sins which were cast out of Mary, including that of prostitution. The Church corrected this error in 1969, when the confusion with Mary of Bethany as a sinful woman was clarified and Mary Magdalene was exonerated, still, the myth continues.

After her first encounter with Jesus, Mary was so transformed, that she became His disciple, and followed Him everywhere.  In the book of Luke it is stated that she travelled with Jesus and helped to support His ministry out of her resources, adding credence to her origin as a member of a royal family. 

We know from the Bible that during the Crucifixion, Mary Magdalene was at the cross while the other apostles were hiding in a loft.  It is also reported in the Bible that Mary was the one who discovered the stone rolled away from the tomb, and that Jesus appeared to her twice outside the tomb and told her that He was not dead, and to go and report the same to the other apostles. When she did this, only John and Peter believed her, and went running to the tomb to find it empty, with only the shroud, which had covered Jesus, while He was lying there. 

 

Why did Mary Magdalene arise to a position of being a favourite of Jesus among the Apostles, to such an extent that others were jealous of her (which according to the Gospel of John)? 

It was because Mary understood the teachings of Jesus much better than the others and thus was provided with teachings that the others did not receive.

In the Pistis Sophia, a book discovered among the Dead Sea Scrolls, there are forty-six questions put to Jesus by the Apostles and Jesus's answers to them. Thirty-nine of the questions are asked by Mary Magdalene.

In the Gospel of Philip, there are several references to Mary Magdalene being very close to Jesus, and being His favourite.

She is described by Jesus as the, 'fullness of fullness and perfection of all perfection'. Finally, there has been found a gospel written by Mary Magdalene herself, but it is in fragments and no complete volume has been found so far.

It is clear that after the Crucifixion, it was Mary who rallied the apostles and instilled confidence in them to go out and preach the Gospel and teachings of Jesus. She is described as the 'comforter and instructor' of the Apostles in the Book of John.

She is even credited with being the author of the Book of John. She would have kept her identity secret and taken the identity of John, who was a male. This was because in those days women were not given any credibility.

She revealed to the Apostles some of the more profound teachings of Jesus in the Gospel of Mary, including what happens to the soul after death.  Prior to the Crucifixion, Jesus had named a group of women to travel about and preach His message, and treat the sick, this was a message of compassion that demonstrated equality for women. All people were welcome in the Kingdom of God. This happened when in the synagogues of the time, women were not even allowed in the main gallery and were relegated to the women’s wing.

In this first group of Jesus’s female disciples were Susanna, daughter of a former chazan of the synagogue at Nazareth; Joanna, wife of Chuza, the steward of Herod Antipas; Elizabeth, daughter of a wealthy Jew from Tiberias; Martha, elder sister of Andrew and Peter; Rachel, sister-in-law of Jude, the brother of Jesus; Nasanta, daughter of Elman, a Syrian physician;  Milcha, cousin of Apostle Thomas; Ruth, eldest daughter of Mathew Levi; Celta, daughter of a roman centurion; Agamon, a widow of Damascus; Rebeca, daughter of Joseph of Arimathea, and Mary Magdalene. 

Jesus instructed Judas to give these ladies funds for pack animals so they could travel to different cities and towns to spread His message and help the sick and suffering. They only once accepted money from Judas, and afterwards provided for their own expenses.

After the Crucifixion, Mary Magdalene travelled to southern France where she became an inspired prophetess, proclaiming the freedom of the soul and salvation as a right of all. She preached what later became known as Gnostic or Hidden Doctrines, where love, selflessness and compassion awakened in the individuals like a flash of light, resulting in understanding and awareness from within of a divine current. Her understanding of the dualism of good and evil, transformed many into nurturing a love for god and helping them to live their lives by giving service to the down trodden.

The whole of Southern France was impacted by Mary, as this was where the Knights of Templar were formed. This was where the Cathars defended their beliefs to the death during the inquisition. The church in Rome did everything in their power to extinguish the light which Mary Magdalene brought to Southern France. However, Mary was known as a saint by the Eastern Orthodox Church. The Lutheran and other Protestant churches honour her as a heroine of the faith.

The message which Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba brought to humanity, that man is divine, and on how to discover one's Divinity, is the same message conveyed to Mary Magdalene by Jesus Christ, and preached by her in Southern France.

Thank you and loving Sai Ram,
Team Radio Sai

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