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Luke 8:1-3

The Word of God

Soon afterwards Jesus went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. The twelve were with him, as well as some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Herod's steward Chuza, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their resources.

Luke 8:1-3
  • Some thoughts on today's scripture

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    • Luke names three Galilean women followers of Jesus: Mary of Magdela, Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna. The first two appear in the passion/resurrection narrative. The other Gospels describe their appearance in that narrative but only Luke informs us that they served Jesus and the Twelve out of their means during the public ministry. They symbolize the thousands who have served Christ’s Church. However, some scholars have accused Luke of being patriarchal in his depiction of the women as mere household workers. Other scholars have come to Luke’s defence. However, this brief episode shows that the sacred writers were men of the first century AD and had the presuppositions of their time. This reminds us that we have to keep in mind that the culture of the Scripture writers reflect cultural attitudes and values that we would not accept today and so we must carefully distinguish these from the religious message of the Gospel.
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    • We see here Jesus, the man with a mission, which he felt very passionately about. It is described here as proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. I pray that I too understand my mission in these terms. I pray the same grace for the Church.
    • Jesus always understood his mission as something to be carried out with others, never on his own. I look at the ones he chose, who look quite an unlikely group, and I ask myself what he wants to tell us through this choice.
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    • This passage illustrates the call of the women, who followed Jesus. It shows how people of means supported the Lord’s mission; Jesus and the Christian community depended on the generosity of people to sustain its mission. In what ways do I support the mission of the Church?
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    • Saint Luke always speaks favourably of women, and highlights their positive response to Jesus. He is the only evangelist who gives us this detail of the women who travelled with Jesus.
    • The scene gives an image of the infant church. It is on the move, and is made up of ordinary women and men who are centred on Jesus. This meant they had to give up their previous settled ways of life. They were bringing with them ‘the good news of the kingdom of God’ not only by words but by being a close-knit community in which each shared whatever resources they had. How fragile a start for the Church!
    • In these times I may experience the Church as fragile and ill-equipped for its great task of spreading the Good News. I pray that God may bless my efforts to bring good news to those I meet.
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    • We know little about Susanna and Joanna other than that that they were happy to follow Jesus and were recognised by Luke as disciples. I think of all those quiet disciples whose lives and prayer have contributed to the church but who have left little evident legacy. I pray for all who support others through their presence – especially women – that they may draw encouragement from knowing how Jesus sees, recognises and loves their humble service.
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    • Saint Edith Stein is a figure of hope in today’s world as we search for spiritual meaning. Born a Jew, she went through a period of atheism, then became a philosopher. She emerged into Catholicism and became the leading voice of Christian women in Hitler’s Germany. Next she became a Carmelite nun. When rounded up with her sister by the Nazis, she said ‘Come, Rosa, we go for our people.’
    • She died a martyr. Her last words, before being sent to the gas chambers of Auschwitz in 1942, include: “If you want to follow the Saviour with purity of heart, your heart must be free of every earthly desire. Jesus, the crucified, wants your life in order to give you his”. Her terrible times shaped her greatness. May we take courage from such a life.
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    • The generous women who cared for Jesus are usually out of sight – like so many women who give of themselves for others. I pray for all who enrich my life by their discrete service.
    • Jesus did not just proclaim the good news - he was the good news. Saint Francis’ advice about preaching the gospel - using words, if necessary - comes to mind. As I receive the word of God, I pray that I may embody it and proclaim it.
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    • Lord, the Twelve apostles are remembered. The women are often forgotten, but their inclusion would have startled the Jews. They were the other members of your travelling group, not just supporting you, but risking their reputations by going out on the road with men. For a group of women, including the powerful like Joanna and the ex-prostitutes like Magdalene, to leave home and travel with a rabbi was scandalous. They showed the love and courage of great Christian women through the ages.
    • The presence of women among Jesus' disciples was countercultural and highly unusual. One was a woman of former demons and another attached to Herod's entourage - people who would have caused comment for Jesus when people saw them with him. He was a man who could ignore or challenge or accept the customs of the culture in their relation to his gospel. He went against many customs of the culture and religion, and his friendship with women was among the most significant.