Over the past few days, the focus of many of my meditations have been those who were at the Crucifixion: Mary the Mother of God, Mary Magdalene, and Saint John. Since my early re-conversion back to the Church, Mary Magdalene has been a constant presence in my life. In my book, I detail the role she played in my developing relationship with Jesus as that of a former sinner. First of all, I would like to dispel some misconceptions about her. Principally, she was not a prostitute. Mary came from a rather well-to-do family in Bethany. He brother Lazarus, and her sister Martha, are major figures in the New Testament. Their home, was a favorite resting place for our Lord. For more on their story, I recommend: The Life of Saint Mary Magdalene and of Her Sister Saint Martha (Cistercian Studies.) Most likely, Mary was a socialite party-girl, much like our contemporary Paris Hilton. She was a sexual adventuress and libertine. She was not in need of money, anyway, at this time in Roman History, prostitutes were always inevitably slaves. When she met Jesus, I think the best historical-fiction representation takes place in the silent-screen version of “King of Kings,” Mary was inhabited by several satanic demons. Once freed, she became a devoted follower.
Saint John is almost the polar opposite. He was the youngest of the Apostles, and has been traditionally associated with sexual purity; most likely because of his virginity. Christ first meets John when the young man was a follower of John the Baptist. Up until that point, he had probably lived a rather sheltered life as a fisherman with his father and brother. In any case John had a prominent position in the Apostolic body. Peter, James, and he were the only witnesses of the raising of Jairus’s daughter, of the Transfiguration, and of the Agony in Gethsemani. Only he and Peter were sent into the city to make the preparation for the Last Supper. At the Supper itself his place was next to Christ on Whose breast he leaned. According to the general interpretation John was also that “other disciple” who with Peter followed Christ after the arrest into the palace of the high-priest. John alone remained near his beloved Master at the foot of the Cross on Calvary with the Mother of Jesus and the pious women, and took the desolate Mother into his care as the last legacy of Christ. In Christian Art, John is usually portrayed as a beardless youth.
Its remarkable, that these were the two people at the foot of the Cross with the Blessed Mother: the former sinner and the chaste boy. For Our Lord Jesus Christ calls all to the Cross. As both of these divergent personalities suffered next to our Lord. The reformed harlot turned away from her former life of glamor and pleasure to embrace the purity of chastity and later became a solitary hermitess who testified to the healing Love of Christ; and the innocent young man who kept himself pure and then saw the end of the world. They are models; as one day any of us can stand beside them on the hill of Calvary.