We heard in today’s Gospel that Jesus was setting out on one of his preaching tours. At first thought today’s Gospel may appear to be just another narrative about one of Jesus’ walkabout tours for ministry. The purpose of those tours was to proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom of God, and to bring that message to the towns and villages of the region of Galilee.Jesus was accompanied by his Twelve Disciples, and by some women who had been cured by him of their infirmities. These women were not just hangers on. It was not simple curiosity or even gratitude that drew them to Jesus. As I prayed with it I could see that their motivation arose out of their faith in the message of Jesus.
Some of those women had significant connections. Joanna, for example, was the wife of Herod’s steward. Becoming followers of Jesus put them in danger, but they followed anyway.
Those women going with Jesus provided for the whole group out of their resources.
Their contribution enabled Jesus to carry on his ministry. It served a necessary and practical purpose. It was a true ministry.
Tracing the history of Christian Mission through the following centuries we can see that the contributions of faithful women have been important in the life of the Church.
I was not really surprised as I contemplated this. The participation of my mother and her friends in the life of our church and Diocese was part of the environment in which I grew up.
Faithful women in every age gave their support first to Jesus and the Apostles and then to their successors in later ages.
In the Monastic Orders of Christianity it was often women’s encouragement that spurred founders of the great communities to spread the mission of Christianity in difficult times and to difficult places.
More recently the witness of a woman missionary to Nez Perce Indians in Idaho in the 1890s, Miss McBeth, encouraged my paternal grandparents to leave parish ministry and devote the rest of their lives to Native Americans in the Pacific Northwest. They considered this a call from God, and that helped my father to understand my own vocation to monastic life.
Give thanks with me for the ministries of faithful women down the ages.
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