What if St Mary Magdalene is an New Testament type of the Jewish People, first in their transition from the Old to the New Law (the stoning), and then in their conversion at the end of the world (the tomb scene).
How? Let us probe it.
Negative Old Testament Laws
Firstly, and unfortunately, God had to instantiate many negative Old Testament laws that were physically not His ultimate desire but that were necessary to meet a child humanity where they were at. More specifically, just as a child must first learn through illustration before graduating to abstract written words without images, so God needed to give His first People physical pictures that were mere images of what would really matter later: spiritual realities. In other words, the mere physical laws, when they pointed to negative spiritual realities, were themselves also negative and, in fact, things that God would not ultimately want in His eventual Plan in fullness.
Some examples of these were the death penalty for serious sin, the taking of the Holy Land by bloody and universal slaughter, down even to the infants, and the ostracization of the lepers from the regular community. Each of these points to a negative spiritual reality, as follows:
The Death Penalty
The ultimate end of serious sin is eternal death in hell. But the early People are not ready for this, so God must give them a picture as the next best thing, which is clearly physical death, hence the death penalty for various, severe sins.
The Bloody Take-over of the Holy Land
The taking of the Holy Land by blood-curdling force is not what liberals say it is: a mere human fashioning that the Jewish people thought God wanted. That is based on Enlightenment heresy, which sees religion as man trying to find God instead of as God coming down to man. Rather, this difficult passage most likely means that when the Church, the New People is about to conquer a land for Christ, spiritually, once it is converted, every last jot and title of its cultural and religious errors that cannot be transformed into something reconcilable to the Gospel must be spiritually slaughtered, massacred by the New Adam and Eve, by the flaming sword of the supreme Archangel, that the blood of these diabolical errors might flow down into eternal fire, that they may be consumed by God’s wrath and destroyed, so that the People there cannot be corrupted by them. For does not the Church massacre even the smallest of heresies since her inception, knowing that the tiniest cancer may in the end destroy the whole person?
The Unclean Community
As for the ostracization of the phylsically unclean from the clean community, in order that the clean community may not be infected by the unclean, how much more should those heretics who are publicly and spirituallyunclean be cast out from the true and clean community, lest they infect the true sheep with errors and sin.
St Mary Magdalene at the Stoning: Transition from Old to New
Consequently, St. Mary Magdalene at her stoning is revealing the transition to the New Law: Jesus is unveiling, as we all know, that even though the death penalty shows, in a beginning sense. the ultimate consequences of serous sin [from physical death to eternal death in hell], nevertheless God’s ultimate desire is for Him to show the sinner loving mercy, to forgive, and to help the person be healed of sin and move on to live in the love of God, away from the wrong doing, and hopefully in natural death, transition to eternal life. This is clearly one of the greatest lessons of Old to New Law in the Gospels.
St Mary Magdalene at the Tomb: The Conversion of the Jews at the End
With this behind us, we move on to the next segment, the second scene of this woman of faith, the empty tomb. Here, as we know, she is in agony that the Christ is not there. She is expecting an Old Testament solution to the Passion. It is not on the radar screen that the Master has risen, never to die. Yet, when this Master, who is both fully Divine and fully human, stands before her, she does not “recognize” Him. Why? Let us consider it.
Jesus’ Old and New Bodies: Images of Old and New Testament Realities
Christ’s Old Body and events of the Gospel before the Resurrection filled up all that is of the Old Covenant—the Laws, the history, and such. At the Cross, however, His Body, and thereby all things Old, were put to death and abolished. “And he shall confirm the covenant with many, in one week: and in the half of the week the victim and the sacrifice shall fall”[Dan 9:27] But, through the Resurrection, rather than totally and radically different, the Old Law came to life again in the New Resurrected Body of Christ. This Body did not destroy all things old but transformed them into New elements, elements that now truly redeem and matter. Therefore, the New Body of Christ is like the Old Body in many ways but also different. And that means it is not, at first glance, completely recognizable!
Toward this end, we ask again, is the New Covenant utterly disjoint and unrecognizable from the Old? No! For, in fact, some elements of the Old remain, namely, amongst other possible things, the base principles of the Law that Christ called out repeatedly to those who petitioned Him—what commandments are most important (Love the Lord your God with your whole being and your neighbor as yourself). Hence, effectively, the Decalogue is still in force. Also, whereas most of the other elements are no longer binding in and of themselves (disciplinary or ceremonial aspects of the Law), they have all been fulfilled, or elevated, to new forms that bear some resemblance to the old but have been transformed spiritually!
But this is the very thing we see in the Resurrected Body of Christ! The Resurrected Body of Christ is, again, not utterly disconnected from the Old Body of Christ! It is the same Body but simply transfigured and elevated! Consequently, precisely because it has transformed elements and characteristics, it is to some degree different from the old Body and therefore, at least initially, hard to recognize!
The Disciples’ Failure to Recognize the Risen Christ can Image the Jews’ Failure to Recognize the Christ as Messiah
In light of these realities, the failure of the disciples to fully recognize the Christ in the beginning becomes a perfect metaphor for the Jewish People’s failure to recognize the Christ as Messiah, Who, as that very Anointed One, has taken the Old Law and transformed it into the New Law, the new way, which the People of Old do not understand, as they cling to the Old Law. [Do not cling to me, Mary, for I have not yet ascended to My Father!]
This wonderfully images the Jewish relationship to Christ in the history of the Church. In the beginning, the Jews see hardly anything in Christ that they can recognize, since they have clung so hard to the Old Law. Progressively, however, as more and more of the New Law comes into focus, the Jews grow closer to Christ, until finally, they fully recognize Him at the conclusion of Church history, the great apostasy and Antichrist.
To understand this more clearly, we need to delve deeper into theological reasons for the failure of the Jewish People to see the fullness of the light. This will involve the familiar Jewish/Catholic apologetics so saturated amongst St. Paul’s writings. Here, a totally common sense suggestion is in order. Let us proceed.
The Conversion of the Jews: How?
The Crux: the Necessity of the Old Covenant before the Incarnation
To begin, we recall from above the nature and purpose of the Old Law. From all eternity, God foresaw that fallen man, in infancy, would be so privy to the visible order that they would in no wise be able to handle the fullness of Divine Revelation right from the beginning. Rather, precisely because of this materialistic existence, he would tend to need to learn or discern the spiritual dimensions through visible signs, or types, before the abstractions that transcend the material signs are more palatable, just as a child must first learn through illustration before graduating to the raw abstractions of written word without images.
For this reason, it in fact implies that God must first establish stages of Revelation and Covenant that, in the beginning, use physical things that only later shall be unveiled to point to their respective fulfillments. For example, killing a literal lamb must prefigure the sacrifice of the Eternal Lamb, the Christ; a literal land, or nation, will prefigure the ultimate Promised Land, heaven, the union with God in the eternal Beatific Vision; the miraculous but merely physical bread fulfilled in the spiritual bread of God Himself, the Eucharist; one must abstain from literal unclean meats to be fulfilled in the abstinence from unclean moral actions. This special covenant that uses these material types is what we call the Prefiguring or Foreshadowing Covenant, Judaism.
And yet, we see that these "pictures" in this Prefiguring Covenant are not salvific in their own sense; they only point to what is salvific. For example, once again, the literal Holy Land of Israel is not an end unto itself; it only points to the true land of fulfillment, the spiritual Kingdom of God in the NT, the Church and, ultimately, heaven. The literal lamb of sacrifice for Passover is not a true, intrinsic atonement. Only God Himself, taking on flesh and suffering in it, the spiritual Lamb of God, is the true atonement. God heals the People from literal serpent bites in the desert, but in the New Covenant, he heals the People of God from the spiritual serpent's bite, sin!
The Inevitable Rejection
And so, we anticipate that in any material world, when God Incarnates Himself to the Prefiguring People and unfolds these new mysteries, it is insulting and wounding to them.
"You mean that you only gave us pictures? We are only a seed People, as prelude to men of allnations? And all this time, you have told us of your Unicity as one God, and now you tell us there is a family of persons in Your one nature to exist? And that one Divine Personhas become God? You have told us you are only One, and that no man can become God! Blasphemy, we cannot take it!"
Hence, the Prefiguring People remain attached to the pictures and reject the fulfillment. They fail to see what the pictures pointed to: from physical blessings, to spiritual renewal. In the end, even if you are in a physical land of milk and honey, only the spiritual ecstasy of heaven, the eternal milk and honey that flows from God Himself, can satiate your desire. In the end, it is not that a particular animal is unclean; it is rather that you must not partake of what is spiritually unclean. Ultimately, no mere animal, which can neither suffer insult nor spiritual pain that you cause Me, can atone for what is infinitely offensive to priceless human dignity and immeasurable love! Only I, your Maker, can make up for your sins.
The Jews Must Recognize Inner Renewal as the True Necessity
And so, again, it is the inner renewal of grace, of inner purity, that makes a man pleasing to God, not external. Consequently, we can argue that the Jews will not convert in full until they have experienced an epic taste of inner renewal—one in which they themselves can relate to.
The Jews’ Extant Experience of Inner Renewal
The solution is standing before us! The People of Prefiguring still walked by grace, though only implicit to them, as God had not yet brought the New Covenant. Yes, this is so!
Which is to say, although the animal sacrifices atoned for nothing in the true sense, were not the Incarnate One's future merits applied to the just of Old? For, was not Jesus' Passion applied to David's sins, or to Moses’? Did not Abraham nevertheless love God in his soul by grace, even though He did not know that God is Triune, much less that the Son who had not yet come would, when He did, fulfill the true sacrifice that his literal son Isaac only prefigured; for has not St Paul countless times in his letters testified to the faith of Abraham as justifying? And how did Abraham remain faithful to God apart from grace, throughout all of the heroic virtue he exercised?
The Historical Experience!
In light of these realities, we can now ask ourselves a more profound question about the already extant Jewish experience of grace and holiness: we have seen that Christ fills up in His Being and Life the entire Old Covenant. Yet, would this not also mean the history of Old. Obviously, yes. Consequently, what if such history of the Jewish People in the beloved Old Testament was the pinnacle of experience in holiness? Could it not possibly be the supreme mechanism through which the Prefiguring People come to faith? In short, it will be shown to be perfect! Toward this end, the issue now would be, does such history have a greater detailed structure than merely the vague “Old Dispensation”? I believe it has, and it is in fact just common sense, in this: obviously, the process of OT history is a maturation in historical holiness. Well, let us ask, what model might arise for historical holiness? How about individual holiness? Yes! The People of God are seen as an individual creature in Scripture! In Apocalypse 12, the individual Woman images, in one layer, the People of God, both Old and New. Similarly, the Church is, per St Paul, like the individual Body of Christ. How much more then can the historical process of holiness be a fulfillment of the individual creature! Amen, and now, is there a general theology for individual holiness? Yes! It is none other than the way of the saint! Amen, for centuries, the Church has established a deep and abiding spirituality for the saints, the states or ways: the purgative, the illuminative, and the unitive. In this vein, it can be established that the Jews, and the Church, each journey a macro version of the way of the saint. It works perfectly! More specifically, a powerful argument can be made that because the respective Peoples of God journey these phases in correlation, and precisely because the Jews must taste the need for inner renewal in place of merely external manifestations of purity to convert, it follows that the Jewish People possess the very seed of the mystery of their conversion in their epic experience of inner restoration!
Imagine this: the very essence of inner renewal in magnificent fashion is staring right at them In the face through their entire pre-Christian walk with YWHY, yet they fail to see it—the spitting image of disciples who stand right in front of their Risen Maker and do no realize it! Shortly, as we probe these ideas, we will see such conjectures lead to a wonderfully exhilarating, fascinating, and yet common-sense and straightforward solution to the mystery.
Toward this end, we can now move into greater detail to see this historical experience as the apex of Jewish inner renewal made manifest in the great human drama. Let us review how it is structured. This spiritual path has three phases:
The People of God Journey the Way of the Saint Historically, Old and New
The Purgative Way: The flesh of the dark night of the senses is fulfilled historically in the world and its tendencies. For, no sooner does God form the Covenant People, than that they shall flourish through the infusion of the Spirit. But the spirit of the world, driven according to pride and selfish ambition, sees the blessings upon God's children as a threat to their material dominion and so naturally reacts against them, which is to say, to either oppress them or to persecute them. Hence, the Church had pagan Rome, and the Jews had Egypt.
The Illuminative Way: The saint eventually conquers the greater resistance of the flesh, overcoming and casting out his substantial sinful tendencies, so that the oppression and/or persecution of the world on God's People ends and the People are freed from the more severe sting of the world's stubborn thorn. The OT fulfillment of this was the Exodus. The NT fulfillment was the conquering of Christianity over pagan Rome, which eventually transformed the continent of Europe into a Catholic civilization.
Hence do the People of God enter the Illuminative Way, which is to say, the development of the contemplation of the Covenantal Divine Revelation. For the OT, this is the Old Law and the age of the prophets, who grow in intimacy with God and develop the application of the Law unto the Prefigured People. In the NT, it is the doctrinal development of the Church, where she contemplates the Deposit of Faith more deeply and draws forth the fuller implications of what Christ and the Apostles left Her, while at the same time expanding her presence in the world.
The dark night of the soul awaits: the outside world becomes colder to the depths of the saint's intimacy in truth with God, so that desolations in various punctuated manifestations progress toward the dark night of the soul, when the whole Deposit of Revelation seems a lie, when the Divine consolation is utterly taken away.
In the Old Testament, it is the prophets who are the just and whose intimacy with God in depth of His Law develops, while the Jews on the outside of them grow colder and more deaf to the their imploring. Finally, just before the vindication of their Revelation, there is the dark night, when all the Jews scoff at the them, holding in contempt the totality of their witness. “But they mocked God's messengers, despised his words and scoffed at his prophets until the wrath of the LORD was aroused against his people and there was no remedy.” [2 Chr 36:16]
In the New Testament, it is the just of the Church herself, especially the Magisterium, that fulfills the role of the saint. In this regard, as the Church develops the Deposit through the Ecumenical councils and constant teaching of the Ordinary Magisterium, so the outside Gentiles grow harsher and harsher toward their Mother, progressively rejecting more and more of the Deposit of Faith, becoming ever more in the spirit of apostasy. Effectively, this has especially manifested itself in a three-stage fall from grace, basically the last 500 years: Protestantism (only Scripture and Reason), Enlightenment and Age of solo-Ratio (only Reason), and Secular Apostasy (not even Reason, total darkness).
The Unitive Way: From most fully approved Private Revelations,, the world will likely soon be restored to faith, even if it involves a very painful and veritably epic tribulation, converting the outer world and restoring them to love of God; Christians will be reunited; Catholic Christendom will be rebuilt. Mankind will walk in love and peace, just like the saint in the unitive way walks every step with God. Too, the Jews had the chastisement of the Babylonian exile, which converted them back to God; there they were restored to their land of refuge and rebuilt the literal House of God, the Temple.
Finally, the Church will have an apocalyptic martyrdom, Antichrist, and great apostasy—just as the saint’s final union with God is frequently martyrdom, whether literal or of the bed. Here, with this same supreme apostasy and appearance of the Man of Sin, as he is called by the Apostle to the Gentiles, there shall be the ultimate persecution and apocalyptic tribulation. This shall give way to a new age, the Second Coming, just as the saint enters the new age, heaven. Predictably, the Jews followed suit: they had an Antichrist in the final night of Maccabees, Antiochus, with terrible martyrdom and persecution, followed by the threshold of the First Coming of Christ, a likewise “new age”.
So it is that the People of both Old and New walk the path of the saint.
Three’s: Jesus and the Gospels Fulfill the Historical Path
Now we must return to where we were. Remember, Jesus must fill up the history of the Jews in His Life, Death and Resurrection, at least at some junctures. How might He do this? Well, the number in question here is three, and its meaning is the way of the saint. So we need to see if Jesus has any “threes” and situations that reflect, if it were possible, the way of the saint. Bingo, there sure are! Where have we seen three? Are not three’s all over the Gospels?! And Jesus fills up these three’sso many times in His Life and Death and Resurrection!
Jesus fulfilled in His flesh their entire journey: three’s! For three days and three nights, Jesus lingered in the earth before rising. On the third day He arose from the dead, in accordance with the Scriptures. Christ fell three times in the way of the cross. Christ progressively prayed three times in the Garden to accept the Will of His Father for the Passion. Three times Peter denied Christ, and three times He was reconciled (“Peter do you love me?”) Three times, Jesus spoke to Mary Magdalene at the tomb to open her eyes. For three days and three nights, Mother Mary and St. Joseph looked for the Christ before finding Him in the Temple.
Yet, once again, seeing so many of their details and journey fulfilled in Christ’s flesh, the Jews are not able to see it. So then, what other options are there for the Jews (“No other sign shall be given unto this generation except the sign of Jonas”) to see the mystery of their spiritual journey except the mystical Body of Christ, the Church!
Yes! The People of New, of Incarnate One, the People of Jesus, walk this spiritual path, too! They fill up in their flesh what is lacking in the suffering of Christ! For the sufferings and life of Jesus in His individual Body could not attain the opening of the eyes of the Jews, but the mystical Body of Christ will!
In other words, all these types in the Gospels filled up the three phases of the Jewish People, yet they have not believed. Hence, what will enable the Jews to convert is to see the same three stage process of inner renewal filled up in the flesh of the Body of Christ, His Church. Hence, as the Church herself journeys the same three-fold path of renewal, fulfilling the same OT history of the Jews in a spiritual sense, the Jews shall progressively recognize this renewal, so that, in the climax of NT Antichrist, fulfilling Antiochus, the OT Antichrist, the Jewish People shall exclaim with St. Mary Magdalene, Rabboni, which means, Teacher!
St Mary Magdalene at the Tomb
And hence, we return to our beloved St Mary Magdalene and that wonderful exposition of this reality in weeping presence at the tomb. We all know the story: Jesus speaks to Mary three times, and progressively she recognizes Him.
More specifically, St. Mary Magdalene’s inability to recognize Jesus at the tomb, her progressive hope in Christ, and thirdly, the final culmination of recognizing Him at the utterance of Jesus, “Mary!”, can be an image of the Jewish relationship to the Messiah in the entire course of the history of the Church.
This would imply, since there are three exchanges, like the three days of Jesus in the Tomb, three chapters of Jewish history during the Church: early Church, intermediate Church, and final Church history, or that is, our ways of the sint, which we shall see as the three phases of darkness of the Church: the purgative way [pagan Rome], the dark night of the soul [our modern minor apostasy], and martyrdom [the great apostasy].
At each juncture, the Savior, the Messiah, is appealing to the weeping woman, His bride:
Messiah: “Woman, why do you weep?”
Mary:“They have taken my Lord and I do not know where they have laid Him!”
People of Old: “The Messiah was supposed to be here. The Messiah was supposed to have come. We had the prophecies, the times, but He is not here. He did not come. We do not where He is!”
This can be the first phase of Church history, the purgative way. In this first phase, pagan Rome, the Jews knew through prophecy, especially Daniel, that the Messiah was supposed to have come, and He did not. Too, they were expecting an Old Messiah, a political redeemer, just as Mary is expecting an Old Christ in the tomb. Their situation is hopeless, and their relationship to Jesus and the Christians is one of hostility and enmity. Christ is not on the radar map at this time.
Messiah: ”Woman, why do you weep?”
Mary: “Sir, if you know where they have taken Him, then please tell me in order that I may go and anoint Him.”
People of Old: “Sir, we still do not recognize you as Our Savior. But perhaps you are a person [the gardener] who can help us find the Messiah, find where they have laid Him!”
Once again as per above, most fully approved private revelation suggests that we are at an intermediate crossroads of Church history, a certain dark night of the soul. The modern godless crisis will give way to a great renewal, even if it requires a chastisement of epic proportions. This renewal will bring the fullness of the Gentiles, a near worldwide Catholic civilization of love, the Triumph of Our Lady of Fatima’s Immaculate Heart.
Too, the Jewish history has taken a positive turn: a great portion of the Hebrew people now have repossession of the Holy Land that they had lost so many centuries ago by the Divine chastisement of Temple destruction and diaspora, which was an allowed consequence of the Jewish inability to recognize the coming of their Savior.
Too, Jewish/Christian relations are renewed. Jews still do not recognize Christ as their Messiah; they do not fully acknowledge the Risen Savior who still stands before them apocalyptically; they continue to weep that they do not know where the Savior is. But, I think it is fair to say that many now regard Christ as a good man who can help them find the Savior, as it were (the gardener?). In fact, in the wake of the incomprehensible horrors of the Holocaust, the Church has reached out to Her elder brethren in friendship, filial affection, and respect. (Popes visiting synagogues and such, is unheard of for centuries).
Technically, Christ’s call to the Jewish People for conversion has not been abrogated as some well-meaning individuals with a very understandable but misguided compassion may insinuate, but neither does the Church look upon her beloved seed of God’s Covenant with condemnation, knowing that:
The Jewish People are not yet fully culpable historically for conversion to the Gospel
Leaving the case of any individual Jewish person to that person and the mercy of God, we realize that the mystery of a person’s conscience carries with it its limited and complex experiences both in positive and negative dimensions
In the end, one can be saved by the implicit desire for Baptism—which, at the end of the day is simply, “Lord, show me the way; Lord, help me follow the way”
And finally, remembering that the Father in the great parable does not condemn the older son in his understandable jealousy at the return of the converted, reprobate younger son (the older son being the Jews and the younger Son, the Gentiles), he rather pleads with the older son to come into the house and celebrate the redemption of his younger brother!
Hence, the second, middle scene between Jesus and Mary Magdalene can be our same, nodern, intermediate phase of Church history, the dark night of the soul.
People of Old and Mary: “Rabboni!”
Finally, at the end of the world, the ultimate déjà vu enters in: the New Testament Antichrist (the final history of the Church before the Second Coming of Christ) fulfills Old Testament Antichrist, Antiochus IV Epiphanies (the final history of the Jews before the First Coming of Christ), bringing the ultimate spiritual victory: the opening of the eyes of the Jews.
In conclusion, I argue that St Mary Magdalene images the Jewish People both in initial transition from Old to New and, in her weeping heart at the empty tomb, the final conversion of the Jewish People.
St Mary Magdalene, pray for us!