Women. Friends of Jesus.

The women who accompanied Jesus

Jesus made his way through towns and villages preaching, and proclaiming the Good News of the kingdom of God. With him went the Twelve, as well as certain women who had been cured of evil spirits and ailments: Mary surnamed the Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, Joanna the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, Susanna, and several others who provided for them out of their own resources.

Luke 8:1-3

In the days of Jesus, women were mostly ignored, domestic and considered possessions of a man. While there has been some advances, we still see terrible prejudice, inequality and violence done towards women. The Gospel of Luke is somewhat more empowering in its mention of women than the other three Gospels.

  • Luke begins by speaking of Elizabeth a descendent of Aaron. She conceives and bears John who prepares the way for Jesus.
  • He makes a special mention of course of Mary the mother of Jesus. There is Mary’s dialogue with the angel. Elizabeth’s greeting to Mary and Mary’s reply with what we call the Magnificat.
  • There’s the prophecy of Anna praising God in the Temple and Mary treasuring and pondering events in her heart.
  • His mention of the widows of Israel and Zarephath.
  • Simon’s mother in law is cured.
  • The raising of the son of the widow of Nain, in which Jesus hands him back to his mother.
  • Jesus speaks of John the Baptist; “of all the children born of women”. In Semitic culture of the time, one’s lineage was patrilineal. It is unusual to associate the child with the mother.
  • There is the woman who comes an anoints the feet of Jesus with her tears and wipes them with her hair at the home of the Pharisee. Jesus defends her before his host.
  • The very next chapter is the mention of the women accompanying Jesus. Mary Magdala, Joanna wife of Chuza, Susanna, and several others. Other apostles perhaps? Definitely disciples. Perhaps recognised in the church as saints but rarely mentioned as celebrated as their male counterparts are.
  • The woman with the hemorrhage and Jairus’ daughter.
  • The fretting of Martha and presence of Mary, the friends of Jesus in Bethany.
  • The healing of the crippled woman on the Sabbath.
  • The parable of the woman who lost one of her ten Drachmas.
  • The poverty stricken widow who gave all she had to the temple treasury.
  • The women who followed him to his death; “daughters of Jerusalem”.
  • The women who followed him from Galilee who took note of where he was buried, returned and prepared spices and anointment. They then the first witnesses to the stone rolled away and Jesus’ body was not there.
  • The women proclaimed to the eleven what had happened. They are named as Mary of Magdala, Joanna, and Mary mother of James. Other women were with them.
  • Scholars debate whether the disciples on the road to Emmaus were in fact a couple; wife and husband.
  • Given the recent texts in the liturgy from St. Paul we might also mention the significant women of the nascent church, such as Chloe, Phoebe, Junia and Priscilla who play an important role in spreading the gospel, as well as hosting the Christian gatherings in Rome. The first Christian of Europe was Lydia, and has a special place in the Acts. Paul chose Phoebe to carry his letter to the Romans from Corinth

The friendship and service of women in Jesus’ life is indisputable. He shares with them as he share with the men. Given that the church today is largely made of women, their place as Jesus’ followers has not diminished. Let us acknowledge and celebrate today the women friends and followers of Jesus. Let us celebrate their place and the place of all women in the spreading of the Good News.