Wednesday in the Seventh Week of Ordinary Time

Luke 8:1-3

Women Who Ministered to Jesus and What That Means

Here, Luke writes that Jesus continued through cities and villages “bringing the good news of the kingdom of God,” without informing us where he went or what happened.  We understand from this that the gospels only tell us what is necessary to know about the Lord so that we may believe in him and be saved (John 20:31); they tell us nothing for the sake of curiosity, regardless how much we wish they did.

But I pause a moment over this short passage in Luke to highlight a fact that Luke thought important to record.  Luke writes that the twelve were with Jesus on these journeys, which we would expect, but then adds that some women also followed Jesus.  Luke even names them: Mary, also called Magdalene, because she came from Magdala, and from whom Jesus cast out seven demons.  (There is an ancient tradition that she was a prostitute and should be identified as the woman who wept over Jesus’ feet, wiped them with her hair, and anointed them, but there is no historical proof of this.)  Luke also mentions Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s household manager, and Susanna, “and many others, who provided for them out of their living.”

I point this out to show that women were an important part of Jesus’ ministry.  No, they were not apostles, nor do we read anywhere that they preached or healed anyone.  But what they could do, they did; and here it is reported that they supported Jesus and his disciples “out of their means,” implying financially.  After all, as the wife of Herod’s household manager, Joanna was obviously a woman of means, and the passage indicates that she wasn’t the only one.  This is not the place for me to exegete every passage in the New Testament about the role of women in the church.  I will simply say that the teaching office of pastor/elder and the office of deacon are reserved for men, as is indicated from First Timothy 3:1-13.  Of course, women too possess spiritual gifts of discernment, wisdom, knowledge, administration, hospitality, etc.  Priscilla and Aquila (her name is first) explained the Scriptures to Apollos (Acts 18:24-28).  And Paul insists that older women train younger women in godliness, for training in godliness is one of the primary purposes of every local church (Titus 2:3-5).  Moreover, the Book of Acts is replete with examples of women doing their part in the ministry of the early Church, and this must always be respected.

Everyone knows that most of the work of the local church is done by women.  We thank Luke for highlighting the women who served Jesus.

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