Daily Reflection – 9/20/19
Jesus journeyed from one town and village to another, preaching and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. Accompanying him were the Twelve and some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, Susanna, and many others who provided for them out of their resources. (Luke 8:1-3)
Jewish culture in the first century was decidedly patriarchal. The daily prayers of Jewish men included this prayer of thanksgiving: “Praised be God that he has not created me a woman.” But Jesus defies these expectations in at least four ways, which have implications for us.
First, Jesus refuses to treat women as inferior. Given the decidedly negative cultural view of women in Jesus’ time, the Gospel writers each testify to Jesus’ treating women with respect, frequently responding in ways that reject cultural norms. He recognizes their dignity, their desires and their gifts.While the expression “son of Abraham” was often used to indicate that a male Jew was recognized as bound by covenant to God, women had never been called “daughters of Abraham.” With this title, Jesus recognizes this woman as having equal worth
Second, Jesus refuses to view women as unclean or especially deserving of punishment. Women who were menstruating or persons who had any flow of blood were considered ritually unclean. In this condition, women were not allowed to participate in most religious rituals. Anything or anyone she touched was deemed unclean. Jesus clearly teaches that the one who keeps all the rules is not necessarily the better person. “Her many sins have been forgiven; hence, she has shown great love” (Luke 8:47).
Third, Jesus steps over expected boundaries between men and women by his acceptance of women as disciples. Of particular interest is the fact that Jesus not only taught women, but some women traveled with him and ministered to him.
Fourth, not only did Jesus have women disciples, but the Gospel writers also assure us that they were prominent recipients of Jesus’ self-revelation. In all of the Gospels, women disciples are the first witnesses to the Resurrection. Mary Magdalene sees Jesus but is not believed (Mark 16:11). In John’s account (20:11-18), she recognizes Jesus when she hears herself called by name, testifying to the close relationship they had. Jesus tells her to go to the other disciples and tell them, “I have seen the Lord.”
The Gospels point us toward including women’s voices and gifts. While we live in a time and culture far different from that of the historical Jesus, his way of welcoming and responding to women has much to teach us.
There is still another verse from Scripture that Jesus used which captures his perspective.” The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed with three measures of wheat flour until the whole batch was leavened” (Matthew 13:33).
Jesus recognized that women had gifts for discipleship, and he was not afraid to call these women forth. Some women today need to hear that the Church recognizes their “leavening,” and welcomes their creativity and spirituality for the gifts that they can be to the “whole batch” that is our Church and our world.
Prayer of The Day
Lord Jesus, we thank for the word that has enabled us to understand better the will of the Father. May your Spirit enlighten our actions and grant us the strength to practice that which your Word has revealed to us. May we, like Mary, your mother, not only listen to but also practice the Word. You who live and reign with the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit forever and ever. Amen
Luke’s Gospel has always been considered the Gospel of women. Indeed, Luke is the one who most records occasions that show the relationship of Jesus with women. However, the novelty, the Good News concerning women, is not simply because of the many citations of their presence around Jesus, but in Jesus’ attitude towards them. Jesus touches them, allows them to touch him, without fear of being contaminated (The difference between Jesus and the masters of the time is that Jesus accepts women as followers and disciples (Lk 8:2-3; 10”39). The liberating force of God, which acts in Jesus, raises women to assume their place of dignity .