HOMILY FOR MONDAY OF 6TH WEEK OF EASTER.
THEME: THE ROLE OF WOMEN IN EVANGELIZATION.
BY: Benedict Agbo (Rev Fr)
*Act 16: 11 – 15, Jn 15: 26 – 16: 1.
There is this passion and tenacity that women generally have for achieving results even more than men. If they believe in a cause and actually want to get at something, you can hardly stop them. Some say they are psychologically wired to be stronger than men even though they may look physically weaker. The primitive society has also not helped matters in subjugating women and so, many cultures have placed women as if they are second class human beings.
But be that as it may, it is still on record that from the dawn of Christianity to this day, women have been in the forefront of witnessing to Christ; Mary, the mother of Jesus gave her ‘fiat’ before incarnation was possibilized, Lk 1: 38; Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist sang her manifesto and made the world conscious of Mary’s divine maternity, Lk 1: 40 – 45; Mary, the sister of Lazarus poured out the profundity of her love for Christ when she spilled her costly nard in anointing Christ’s feet, Jn 12: 1 – 7; Mary of Magdala and other women continuing this same gesture immediately after the death of Christ were now able to approach the tomb of Christ with loving devotion with this pure intention of anointing his body when they discovered that Christ is risen, Jn 20: 1 – 3; what an indispensable role played by this retinue of women! Left to the male apostles alone, I am not sure that the message of salvation which Jesus brought would have been propagated. Perhaps, the fire of evangelization would have doused after the burial of Christ. Nobody would have even remembered where they buried him since the apostles all ran away. But the women kept the fellowship.
We are now told in today’s 1st reading that when Paul and Silas, embarked on the 2nd missionary journey into Europe, they were still perching homelessly when a devout woman at Philippi named Lydia proposed to accommodate and feed them in her house. She made this request so passionately that Paul, despite his celibate caution, had to accept the offer. That in no little way facilitated their work of evangelization in Thyatira, Neapolis, Philippi and the whole of that Roman colony around the district of Macedonia.
In our own time, in most Churches, it is the women who are in the majority in our Parish churches; It is the women who welcome Priests and Seminarians, feed and accommodate them ; through yearly projects like August Meeting, they support the progress of many parishes. Thousands of religious congregations of Sisters are engaged in prayers and services fuelling the engine of evangelization in our various localities. Some keep wondering why the women are underrepresented in the authorized ministry of today’s Church? I guess it is a problem of culture more than dogma. Many churches (especially the orthodox churches) still see the priesthood as exclusively a male vocation. Christ did (perhaps due to the Jewish culture); Paul did (perhaps due to his little chauvinism); the early apostles did. Today, our African culture is even more inalienable to women ordination and so, the Church may not safely thread that part for now. But we can involve them more in service ministries, distribution of Holy Communion, catechesis, marriage instructions, strategic evangelization, youth apostolate, christian education, etc. The gospel says: ‘You, too (male and female) will be my witnesses’. We need to rise up to the challenges of evangelization in our country today and put all hands and resources on deck. May God bless you today!
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