Thursday, September 17, 2009

Faithful Witnesses

Luke 8: 1 - 3

Surely in our times thinking about these verses from Luke's gospel could be as dangerous as skating on thin ice. So easily could the ice give way, leaving me in icy waters -- because others may interpret my words and thoughts differently than I intend them.

In each of the gospels we learn that there were followers who accompanied Jesus. They joined him on his daily journeys for a number of reasons. They "shared in his ministry." In addition to the Twelve closest followers, there were women! Furthermore, Luke mentions 13 women who were overlooked by the other gospel writers. Immediately some may assume there feminine followers did more than cook or wash clothes for Jesus and the others. Actually these women were faithful witnesses, too. They say and heard what Jesus had done. Women were the first to find Joseph of Arimathea's tomb vacated. They were the first to announce that "Jesus had risen!" They proclaimed the reality of the Resurrection!

At the foot of the cross "All those who knew Jesus personally, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance to watch (Luke:23:49)." A number of the Twelve had fled in fear but not these ladies!

So what should we think about the women's roles? The ice gets thin again!! Not an expert on the scriptural verses about the role of women in Jesus' life, I do not write this to say or hint that Jesus' collaboration with the women mentioned by Luke should be elevated to a sacerdotal level. Whew!! The ice didn't give way! Together with the Twelve these ladies stand as a picture of how how they and others affiliated themselves and their service in the formative days of the Church. As Pope John Paul II wrote, women do have special ministries in our Church.

A lady friend I encountered on my own priestly journey said this about women and today's pastors. "Every pastor needs a Mary (yes, her name) to help him, to listen to him, to strengthen him in his vocation ... not to challenge his calling."

I can gratefully write these words: Father, I give you thanks for the many women who assisted me in my various assignments. So much more was accomplished by their insights, their patience, their charity, their efforts to make the pastor a successful leader and man of prayer. I truly believe your Son would reiterate these sentiments if he has not done so already!