I WAS HANDY-MARY (Mark 15:40-47; 16:1-7; Matthew 27:55-61; 28:1-10; Luke 8:3; 23:55-56; 24:1-11; John 19:25)
I am pleased to be remembered as the other Mary or the Handy-Mary. One could even call me, “the utility lady.” I would do what no one else would or had time to do. I volunteered to be around when others could not. I was present at all the events of Jesus’ ministry from the beginning to the end.
It all began, when my son James the Younger, son of Alphaeus, became a follower of Jesus. Alphaeus happened to be a brother to Joseph, the father of Jesus. That is why I was also known as the sister of Mary, the mother of Jesus. Actually, we were sisters-in-law. Because of our son James, we believed in Jesus before Jesus’ own family did. I tagged along with my son as one of the first women. I did it to support my son, but I ended up supporting Jesus and all the other disciples. You might say that I was actually responsible of convincing others, including my sister-in-law, to follow Jesus. In the beginning, His family regarded Him as being beside Himself. It took a lot of convincing that Jesus was the Messiah. Most of the people, in our town of Nazareth, were ready to throw Him off a cliff. But when the news about Jesus’ fame kept spreading, then His mother and brothers also began to follow Him. By then, they had to leave Nazareth. The people became intolerant towards anyone who was connected with Jesus. It was beyond their grasp, that a simple carpenter could be God’s choice. Especially, our teachers behaved as if God should have consulted them before He chose His Messiah?
I also chose to follow Jesus for the way He treated us women. Before He came, we were not allowed to come near a holy man or a teacher that had come from God. Most of the time, we were considered unclean. On one hand, if we became mothers, we were honored. On the other hand, when we pleased our husbands, we were regarded as unclean. No matter what we did, we were not even second-class human beings. If the men were tired of us, they could place a sandal in our hands and send us off into the world. What were we supposed to do, when the law was on their side and we were labeled as undesirables? Jesus did not endorse a male-made and male-dominated system. He held men accountable and forbade divorce. My heart cheered when the men dragged an unfortunate woman before Jesus and demanded that she be stoned and He told them if they had not sinned to go ahead and do it. I watched their faces turn and see them disappear faster than they had come. Yes, we had found someone who was able to defend our rights and that was more than enough reason to follow Him.
Furthermore, I followed Jesus because I believed firmly that He was God’s Chosen One. I liked His miracles, but more so His teaching. No man ever taught with such assurance and conviction as He did. Those of us, who were with Him daily could not help but dedicate our lives and substance to His cause. Hence, I counted it a rare privilege to assist materially and physically in Jesus’ ministry. I traveled with Him and His chosen twelve from Galilee to Jerusalem several times. I, too, was a witness to His deeds and His Words. I am one of the few that were first hand witnesses to what took place on the day our Lord was sentenced and crucified. I saw, with my own eyes, how Jesus looked, after Pilate’s soldiers were through with Him. I, along with some of the women, followed Him up the hill to Golgotha. I saw how the soldiers nailed our Lord to the cross and heard how they mocked Him. I was with Mary, Jesus’ mother, when her heart broke over what was being done to her Son. And when our Lord cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” I too felt that all was lost.
I think that God, the Father, heard our Master’s plea. Loud and clearly our Messiah declared, “It finished!” Shortly thereafter He said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” Having said that, He bowed His head and stopped breathing. What followed took everyone by surprise. It no longer was that gentle voice, from heaven, that once had identified Jesus as a Son, who pleased the Father. This was an angry voice from heaven that spoke in thunder and lightning and through an earthquake and total darkness. Even the sun hid from that mighty force that tore the curtain in the Temple and carried the glory of the Lord up the hill to Golgotha. There was no doubt that these men had crucified the Son of God. This was a victory for Jesus and not a defeat. Evil men had tried to destroy His humanity, but they could not touch His Divinity. Jesus proved to us that His soul was in the hands of God, the Father, and not in the hands of men.
It would take three days before I, too, would realize that the cross was a victory and not a defeat. I was one of the women that had brought spices to embalm our Lord and we were met by angels, to remind us, that we were looking for a living Lord among the dead. They sent us to tell the disciples that Jesus was alive, and that He would meet them in Galilee. It took some doing, to convince these men that our Lord was alive. On our first try, we failed. Our words sounded like a fairy tale. We were not very convincing ourselves. And why would anyone believe the women? I, no longer, had to believe. I was there while it all happened.