This past weekend I had an opportunity to view the Mary Magdalene movie starring Rooney Mara and Joachim Phoenix. The movie, Mary Magdalene, has not yet been released in the U.S. as it has been caught up in the Harvey Weinstein sex abuse (#MeToo ) scandal. Thanks to a resourceful Magdalene sister, however, we were able to procure a copy. What follows are my thoughts on the film.
First of all, overall, the Mary Magdalene movie, as a film was just ok. I found the portrayal of Jesus strange and disjointed. On one hand, he came across as a political zealot, on another hand completely unapproachable, and on another hand almost a little nuts. Perhaps this was the intention of the director to depict a complicated Jesus, but for me personally, it made it difficult for me to care about his character. The crucifixion was perhaps the most anti-climactic crucifixion I have ever seen portrayed in film. I really didn’t care about any of the other characters either….except for Mary Magdalene. Again, perhaps that was the point.
While I have heard mixed reactions to the portrayal of Mary Magdalene in this film, I appreciated how she was depicted. First, she was shown to be a deeply spiritual/inward directed/contemplative and intuitive young woman who found peace in the spiritual practices of her Jewish faith. Right away the film showed Mary’s ability to hear the voice of her own truth and when the traditions of her culture would have forced her into a marriage she did not feel called to, she “went nuts.” The breakdown that Mary suffered in the film was not a breakdown at all….but rather a breakthrough. I thought the film did a terrific job of portraying the symptoms of a spiritual emergence – when our Soul’s calling is in conflict with where we are or what is being forced upon us in our lives. The “seven demons” of which Mary Magdalene was healed were not demons at all, but the voice of her truth calling her to a different life than what would normally be dictated to a Jewish woman in first century Palestine. It was Jesus who saw and affirmed the truth that was being called out of Mary and he affirmed and supported her in her truth – defying cultural norms, and even the arguments of his male disciples by welcoming a woman into their company. While this meant a break from Mary’s family, this was what is often demanded when we step away from our cultural norms into the path of our Divinely ordained truth.
As the story continued to unfold, Mary was shown to be THE ONE who got Jesus’ message. She did not look to Jesus as the “savior king” that the disciples sought. Instead, she longed to know the “kingdom of God” about which Jesus spoke, even asking Jesus, “What does the kingdom feel like?” Jesus’ heartfelt reply betrayed his own longing to be heard, “No one has ever asked me this.” It was this connection that bonded Jesus and Mary – a bond I believe to have been profoundly true in real life.
Mary was also shown to be the one who encouraged Jesus to welcome more women into their company. Jesus responded by empowering Mary to call the women forth and minister to them. Mary is shown in the role of PRIEST by baptizing the women while Jesus baptized the men.
Meet the modern-day Magdalenes HERE.
True to scripture, Mary is shown as being with Jesus at the crucifixion as a source of love and support. She is then shown to be THE ONE to whom Jesus revealed himself at the resurrection. Mary was ordained by Jesus to tell the other disciples, who did not believe her.
The final scene in the Mary Magdalene movie is ultimately what made the whole movie worthwhile for me. In this scene, Peter argues with Mary about the intent of Jesus’ message – salvation by an outside intercessor or salvation from within. Mary argued for the latter. She was told by Peter that she was wrong and the Jesus intended THE MEN to be the rock upon he would build his Church and that Mary was wrong. She was given the choice to remain and be silent or leave. She left. Her final words to Peter say it all:
“I will not remain and be silent. I will be heard.”
Hail Mary for grasping the truth of Jesus’ message, for bringing it into her heart, for embodying that truth and for going forth to share that message with the world.
The kingdom of God is within and THIS is the source of our “salvation.”
“I will not remain and be silent. I will be heard!”
May this be the mantra by which we all live!
Amen! Amen! Amen!
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