Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Women and the Church

One of the tasks I set myself this Lent was to keep up with the daily liturgical readings for the day. These are listed in a small box in my parish bulletin, which is most helpful. (I have been about as consistent with this as with one of my other Lenten resolutions--keeping the kitchen sink clean. Which indicates to me that I have a much easier time giving something up than doing something positive and pro-active.)

Since last Sunday was Palm Sunday and this week is Holy Week, I expected the readings to be concerned with the Last Supper and the Passion. So far, however, the readings have been about the Resurrection.

More specifically, Monday and Tuesday's readings dealt with the women finding the empty tomb and Mary of Magdala not realizing that she was speaking to Jesus in the garden.

I have also been reading Peggy Noonan's book, John Paul the Great (which I'll review later). In this book, Ms. Noonan discusses the role of women in the Catholic Church, especially why the beautification of Mother Teresa was so important, as well as the great love and devotion John Paul had for the Blessed Mother.

Once again I was struck by the importance of women in my Church. Jesus, in his great suffering and pain, took time to make sure His mother was taken care of. He gave her to John, and through John to all of us because we all need nuturing and support. Men are often problem-solvers and "fixers." Women are often comforters, and, although we try to "fix" things, too, our solutions are based more on making someone feel better.

It's the women who gather on the road to Golgotha to offer support to Jesus on the Via Dolorosa. It's a woman, Veronica according to tradition, who wipes His brow of the blood and sweat.

And it's the women who discover He has risen and who tell the apostles. Even "the disciple Jesus loved" finds out only because the women tell him and Peter.

What does all this tell me?

That my role, the role of femaleness, is essential to the Resurrection story. My role is not that of Peter, but of Mary of Magdala who came to the tomb expecting to anoint a body according to the Law of Moses but instead found so much less--and so much more. In Luke, Mary Magdala is the first person Jesus addresses. Why would He do that if women were not important?

And the disciples--Peter and John--listen to the women. They do not dismiss her. They run to the tomb to see for themselves that Jesus is gone.

Even Jesus listened to His mother and performed His first miracle at Cana at her request.

With those examples, why would anyone lightly dismiss the advice and counsel a woman provides? And why would anyone willingly give up the power to advise?