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July 17, 1992     The Message
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17, 1992 The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana Commentary 9 ij : By FATHER DONALD DILGER Gospel Commentary for Sunday, July 19, 1992, Sixteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle C: Luke 10:38-42 Luke's Jesus is on the way to Jerusalem. This "journey to Jerusalem" becomes for Luke an in- tensive training period for disciples. Up to this point James and John were corrected for threaten- ing behavior toward a Samaritan village. Thus they learn that Jesus' love extends to people of other races. Luke then points out how difficult it is to follow Jesus. The mission of the 70 disciples comes next. They are the unknown followers of Jesus who continue the work of the twelve apos- tles. Now Luke seems to ask whether discipleship is to be restricted only to Jewish males. The answer comes through the parable of the Good Samari- tan. Luke demonstrates that even a man of a de- spised race of the time, an outsider, a non-Jew, can be a disciple of Jesus. Tbe Samaritan did what Jesus expects of his followers. He.showed the love of neighbor toward a robbed and wounded man. The next story seems to answer a further ques- tion about discipleship. Can women also be dis- ciples of Jesus? And ('all they be so in a time and a culture that regard women as subordinate to men? The answer is affirmative. Jesus has just sent out 70 disciples. Now he visits Martha and Mary. It is Martha's house. She welcomes Jesus. Then in words that describe discipleship Luke writes of Mary the sister of Martha: "She sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching." Jesus visits Martha and Mary: Luke and women Martha had her own way of serving Jesus, the du- ties of a hostess toward an honored guest. Martha was disturbed that Mary did not help her. Jesus gently reminded her that a disciple's first work is to listen to his teaching. Activity can follow. Luke's gospel gives a greater role to women than the Gospel of Mark which was Luke's source. Mark did not speak well of Jesus' mother. Luke makes Mary the first disciple of Jesus with the words: "Behold the handmaid of the Lord. Be it done to me according to your word." Even though the women who followed Jesus in the Gospel of Mark were more faithful than Jesus' male disciples who all abandoned him, still Mark depicts even these faithful women as failing Jesus in the last sentence of his gospel. They receive a message from the angel at the tomb to proclaim the resurrection of Jesus to his followers who had abandoned him. Mark writes: "They said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid." Luke directly contradicts Mark with this statement: "Returning from the tomb they told this to the eleven and to the others." Besides Martha and Mary, the Gospel of Luke includes women not found in the other gospels. Elizabeth, wife of Zechariah and mother of John the Baptist is the first woman mentioned in Luke. She is given the role of proclaiming Mary "mother of my Lord," and is described as being "lull of the Holy Spirit." Luke alone introduces us to Anna, a prophetess. Anna is depicted as proclaiming Jesus to be the "redemption of Is- rael." Only in Luke do women console Jesus on the way to Calvary. There are still more examples of Luke's con- cern for the role of women in the Church. In his second book, Acts of Apostles, women are given- ii ! important roles in the development of early . : Christianity. Mary, mother of Jesus is present at Pentecost. Special concern is shown for widows. Priscilla is a major disciple of Paul. With her :: husband, (in second place), she teaches "the way of God" to Apollos, a Scripture scholar. It is to Mary, mother of John Mark, that Peter goes for shelter after escape from prison. Tabitha is de- scribed as "full of good works and of charity." Does Luke's concern for the role of women in the Church teach us anything? We see an evolu- tion in the role of women from the earliest gospel, Mark, to the Gospel of Luke and Acts of Apostles. We see an even greater development in the still later Gospel of John. From there it went on to deaconesses and there is new evidence that women were also ordained to the priest- hood in early Christian centuries. That develop- ment did not have to stop, but the culture of the time, a male dominated culture, was contesting this development from earliest times as we see in the pastoral letters. If the Holy Spirit guided the evolution of diaconate, priesthood, episco- pate, and even papacy, from the teachings of Jesus, then let us not stifle the same Holy Spirit from guiding the evolution of the role of women equal to that of men. The biblical basis is present in the writings of Luke, John, and even Paul. Other readings for Sunday, July 19: Genesis 18: 1-10; Colossians 1: 24-28. 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