CYCLE II: HOMILY FOR FRIDAY OF THE 24TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME
HOMILY THEME: THE ROLE OF ‘WOMEN APOSTLES’!
BY: Fr. Benedict Agbo
HOMILY: *1Cor 15 : 12 – 20, Lk 8 : 4 – 15.
I have titled my reflection for today “The role of ‘women apostles'” not because I see them as apostles in the proper sense of the word but in the operative sense. I call them apostles because they accompanied Christ all through his ministry and bore witness to the resurrection (one of the principal precepts of Christianity according to the 1st reading of today). Being women (according to Jewish culture), they could not preach and were not ordained, but they did what they could do ; They supported and sustained Jesus’ ministry by providing their resources and taking care of Jesus’ domestic needs. The following names were mentioned in the scriptures:
(i) Mary Magdalene ; She was tormented by 7 demons and was delivered by Christ. There is no proof that she was a harlot but it is reasonable to assume that since immorality is one of the commonest demonic manifestations in women. She spent the rest of her life following and ministering to Jesus. She followed him to the Cross and identified his graveside and continued the loving process of embalment for some days leading to the witness of the resurrection. (ii) Joanna ; She was the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward. Coming from the rich class, she ministered to Jesus from her resources. Christian tradition has it that she was the wife of that noble man whose son Christ healed at Capanaum, Lk 7 :1 – 10. You can be sure that both her and her husband would be one in this business of apostleship.
(iii) Suzanna ; We don’t know much about her but her name was mentioned as one of those who ministered to Jesus.
(iv) Mary and Martha ; They were family friends of Jesus, sisters of Lazarus – members of the Bethany home which was a principal rest house for Jesus.
What should we do with women in the Church? I am not a proponent of the school of thought in support of the ‘maleness’ of the Catholic priesthood, yet I am not an adherent of the current motion for female ordination, just for the simple reason that Christ did not find that necessary. We can imitate Christ better by making very good use of women in our priestly ministry like Jesus did without ordaining them as real ‘apostles’ as Jesus did not. Our ‘Rev Sisters’ are reverends indeed. Although they are not ordained but they are religious and so, should never be treated as lay people. They should not also see themselves as female priests. They should be given more functions liturgically and pastorally like distribution of Holy Communion (especially to the sick and aged), Catechesis, marriage instructions, moral instructions in primary and secondary schools, youth apostolate, etc.
Our Christian mothers are already doing very well in the responsibilities of providing for the presbyteries especially in poor parishes where the offertory collection cannot feed the priests. Their August Meeting fund raising should continue to be a source of strong support to the priestly ministry. In this way, even without being ordained, women can spiritually share/partake in the blessings of the priestly ministry.