Today we run into one of the most touchy subjects in the Bible , the women. In both Old and New Testament they play leading roles. While none govern Israel, there are 5 to whom the title "prophet" is applied: Miriam, Deborah, Huldah, Noadiah, and Anna. And today in Luke's gospel we hear about the women who traveled with Jesus( Lk 8).
We have a tendency to think that it was just Jesus and the 12 guys. But as Luke points out, there were Jesus, the 12 apostles, and then there was this group of women who while not apostles were part of the inner circle. Three of them are named here: Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Susanna. And it will be the group of women who will inform the 12 of the resurrection (Lk. 24:10). Luke 24 adds the name of Mary, the mother of James, to the list of those who are named.
How many women were in the group? We have no idea. We know that some were women with resources who helped finance the ministry. We know that St. Luke tells us they were the first witnesses to the resurrection.
What role did they play in the early church? We don't know. Both extremes are a mistake. The extreme that wants to pretend that Mary Magdalene was an apostle and the other extreme that sees the women as having no role beyond subservience.
Why Jesus chose to entrust the apostolic ministry to men only we do not know? Rather than arguing over what wasn't and what some people think should have been, we should focus on what we do know.
Today's reading reminds us that we need to make sure that in our education of our children we teach them about the women we do know about. From Miriam to Mary Magdalene women of strength, women of courage.