Gospel: Lk 8:1-3
Jesus walked through towns and countryside, preaching and giving the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve followed him, and also some women, who had been healed of evil spirits and diseases: Mary called Magdalene, who had been freed of seven demons; Joanna, wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward; Suzanna; and others, who provided for them out of their own funds.
At the time of Jesus and in 1st century Palestine, women had no public voice, no public role, and no rights as free persons. Rabbis had a low opinion of women and saw them essentially as temptresses (Eve tempted Adam to eat of the forbidden fruit). Hence the need for men to keep aloof of women, never talk or be seen with them in public. In the synagogues, they were separated from men and screened off so as to remain invisible.
Against this cultural background we see Jesus treating women in a completely different way. He talks to them in public (cf. the episode of the Samaritan woman), to the astonishment of his disciples (Jn 4:27). He accepts them as disciples, as we see in today’s gospel reading, what no Jewish rabbi would ever have done. He would have made them apostles, surely, but no one would have accepted to listen to them, so he had to stop short of doing that. But he did appear to women first, after the Resurrection. Clearly, Jesus thought that women were just as important as men. And, if we are true followers of his, we will think so too.
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