I WAS THE OTHER-MARY (Mk.15: 40; Mt.27: 56; 28: 1; Lk.24: 10; Jn.19: 25)
I am pleased to be remembered as the Other Mary or as the sister to Mary mother of Jesus. Actually, we were sisters-in-law. Mary was married to Joseph and I was married to Alphaeus, Joseph’s brother. Mary and I grew up together in Nazareth. We played together and we shared our secrets together. Mary and Joseph were away for a time and then returned to Nazareth with a little boy named “Jesus” and we continued our friendship. I was privileged to watch Jesus grow up. He played with our children. Our son James was very close to Jesus. Their friendship would impact us greatly. He began to follow Jesus long before they became adults. He also looked up to Jesus and we were pleased that he did. Jesus had a way of staying out of childish mishaps. Jesus kept often to Himself and He appeared lost in thinking. Even when He was little, He puzzled us with His questions. By the age of twelve, He began to instruct our leaders. He had an unusual desire to be in the house of God, in our synagogue and in the Temple in Jerusalem. He disagreed with His parents once and then was the most obedient child in the neighborhood and He did well in his father’s trade. Jesus was somewhat of a peacemaker among the children. There was less disagreement and fighting among them when He was around. There was something secret about Jesus until He made it public Himself, when He went on His mission trip into the desert. After He returned, He stirred up our people by announcing that He was acting in behalf of God. He was almost killed. He left Nazareth and our son James went with Him. Shortly thereafter, I, too, did followed Jesus and our son.
It was because of our son James that I 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 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, we too 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 decided 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 saw 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 support 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 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 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.” He 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 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 when it all happened. It was not the end but a new beginning. Our Christ lives on!