Homily for Sept. 16th, 2016: Luke 8:1-3
Who were Jesus’ disciples? The Twelve, first of all, chosen by Jesus to represent Jesus’ desire to reconstitute the twelve tribes of
. They were all men.
Traveling along with them, Luke tells us in today’s gospel, were women as well.
A modern Bible commentator writes: “It was not uncommon for women to support
rabbis and their disciples out of their own money, property, or foodstuffs. But
for [a woman] to leave home and travel with a rabbi was not only unheard of, it
was scandalous. Even more scandalous was the fact that women, both respectable
and not, were among Jesus’ travelling companions.” Today’s gospel is one of the
many pieces of evidence we have that Jesus rejected the second-class status of
women in his society. Israel
The first woman mentioned, Mary of Magdala, a small town in
is clearly not the woman “known in
the town to be a sinner.” [Luke 7:37]. Luke is clearly telling us about a woman
he has not previously mentioned. The information that “seven demons had gone
out of her” refers to healing from sickness. The number seven in biblical
thought represents fullness. Her healing is now complete.
The next woman mentioned, Joanna, is married to a high government official: Chuza, the manager of the estates of
’s ruler, Herod
Antipas. This Herod was hostile to Jesus. If his steward Chuza was the royal
official mentioned in the 4th chapter of John’s gospel who asked
Jesus to heal his son, as some commentators believe, and who “became a
believer” when the boy was cured, this would explain why he allowed his wife to
minister to Jesus. Palestine
Later it would be women, not men, who were the first witnesses and messengers of the resurrection. Despite all this evidence of the importance of women for Jesus, it was to men alone that he gave the command at the Last Supper, to “do this in my memory.” This helps explain why still today only men are ordained to the priesthood. St. John Paul II told us that the Church has no power to alter Jesus’ clear intention and command.