Afterward he 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)
Century after century, women have had to fight for their rightful voice in society. Century after century, there have been examples of women who have helped change their society. If we return to the base line of Christianity, we see that it was the historical Jesus, through his welcoming and responding to women who taught us so much. Lessons that need to be remembered in our daily life.
As he did with so many mores, rules and laws, Jesus turned the traditional view upside down. He showed by example that society then was mistaken. In that society, women did not have the status of men and were denied basic rights.
Jesus defies these expectations in at least four ways, which have implications for us.
First, Jesus refused 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. Yet, today, we still see women working for less pay, women having to prove themselves professionally with far more effort.
Second, Jesus refuses to view women as different. Women who had any flow of blood were considered ritually unclean. Anything or anyone she touched was deemed unclean. Women were not allowed in the same temple area as men. Jesus recognizes the dignity of women in situations that seem by ritual law to demand judgment, for example, the sinful woman who anoints Jesus (Luke 7:36-50) and that of the woman caught in adultery (John 8:3-11). Isn’t it true that, even today, a woman’s gender is often used against her?
Third, Jesus steps over expected boundaries between men and women by his acceptance of women as disciples. Unlike rabbis of his day, Jesus taught women about Scripture and his way of love. His love was and is always inclusive. Jesus knew and taught by example that all people need to live free and empowered lives, Our current society will still use psychological boundaries to both define and sometimes separate men and women.
Fourth, not only did Jesus have women disciples, but the Gospel writers also assure us that they were prominent recipients of Jesus’ self-revelation. The women around Jesus understood at a much deeper level the path that Jesus was taking.
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. And it is a sad commentary that I even wrote the preceding sentence.
The fact is that men through the centuries have carved out a role for themselves that too often speaks of a distinction that separates them in a superior role. Yet, it is women who give men birth, nurture men, support them, provide emotional support, and in truth are the rocks upon which societies are built. The Christian Church itself was bounded by men and women whose faith was so strong that they gave their life for it.
Wherever we are in our life’s journey, there is but one teacher who will always show us the way. Then and now, Jesus Christ welcomed all of his children to His banquet and treated them with dignity, equality, respect and compassion. Can each of us say that we treat all we meet with the same?
Prayer of The Day
Lord, I am but one of your children. Help me always to respect that each person deserves my respect, compassion and dignity. Help me to realize that if I am to be a true follower there never can be any form of discrimination in my heart.
Jesus recognized that women had gifts for discipleship, and he was not afraid to call these women forth. Women today need to hear that the Christian 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.