Lectio Divina: Luke 8:1-3
1) Opening prayer
our creator and guide,
may we serve You with all our hearts
and know Your forgiveness in our lives.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
2) Gospel Reading - Luke 8:1-3
Jesus journeyed from one town and village to another, preaching and proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom of God. Accompanying him were the Twelve and some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, Susanna, and many others who provided for them out of their resources.
• In today’s Gospel we have the continuation of yesterday’s episode which spoke of the surprising attitude of Jesus with regard to women, when He defends the woman who was known in the town as a sinner, against the criticism of the Pharisee. Now at the beginning of chapter 8, Luke describes Jesus who goes through the villages and towns of Galilee, and the novelty is that He was not only accompanied by the disciples, but also by the women disciples.
• Luke 8:1: The Twelve who follow Jesus. In one phrase alone, Luke describes the situation: Jesus goes through towns and villages preaching and proclaiming the Good News of the Kingdom of God and the Twelve are with Him. The expression “to follow Jesus” (cf. Mk 1:18; 15:41) indicates the condition of the disciple who follows the Master, twenty-four hours a day, trying to imitate His example and to participate in His destiny.
• Luke 8:2-3: The women follow Jesus. What surprises is that along with the men there are also women “together with Jesus”. Luke places both the men and the women disciples at the same level because all of them follow Jesus. Luke has also kept some of the names of some of these women disciples: Mary Magdalene, born in the town of Magdala. She had been cured and delivered from seven demons; Joanna, the wife of Chuza, steward of Herod Antipas, who was Governor of Galilee; Suzanne and several others. It is said that they “served Jesus with their own goods” Jesus allows a group of women “to follow” Him (Lk 8:2-3; 23:49; Mk 15:41). The Gospel of Mark when speaking about the women at the moment of Jesus’ death says, “There were some women who were observing at a distance and among them Mary of Magdala, Mary, the mother of James the younger and Joses, and Salome, who followed Him and served Him when he was still in Galilee, and many others who had gone up with Him to Jerusalem (Mk 15:40-41). Mark defines their attitude with three words: to follow, to serve, to go up to Jerusalem. The first Christians did not draw up a list of these women disciples who followed Jesus as they had done with the twelve disciples. But, in the pages of the Gospel of Luke the name of seven of these women disciples are mentioned: Mary Magdalene, Joanna, wife of Chuza, Suzanne (Lk 8:3), Martha and Mary (Lk 10:38), Mary, the mother of James (Lk 24:10) and Anna, the prophetess (Lk 2:36), who was eighty-four years old. Number eighty-four is seven times twelve: the perfect age! The later Ecclesiastical tradition does not value this fact about the discipleship of women with the same importance with which it values the following of Jesus on the part of men. It is also important to remember that women held a particular discipleship apart from the men chosen by Jesus for the Twelve.
The Gospel of Luke has always been considered as the Gospel of women. In fact, Luke is the Evangelist who presents the largest number of episodes in which he underlines the relationship of Jesus with the women, and the novelty is not only in the presence of the women around Jesus, but also and, above all, in the attitude of Jesus in relation to them. Jesus touches them and allows them to touch Him without fear of being contaminated (Lk 7:39; 8:44-45,54). This was different from the teachers of that time, Jesus accepts women who follow Him and who are His disciples (Lk 8:2-3; 10: 39). The liberating force of God, which acts in Jesus, allows women to rise and to assume their dignity (Lk 13:13). Jesus is sensitive to the suffering of the widow and is in solidarity with her sorrow (Lk 7:13). The work of the woman who prepares the meal is considered by Jesus like a sign of the Kingdom (Lk 13:20-21). The insistent widow who struggles for her rights is considered the model of prayer (Lk 18:1-8), and the poor widow who shares the little that she has with others is the model of dedication and donation (Lk 21:1-4). At a time when the witness of women is not accepted as something valid, Jesus accepts women and considers them witnesses of His death (Lk 23:49), of His burial (Lk 22:55-56) and of His resurrection (Lk 24:1-11, 22-24).
4) Personal questions
• How are women considered in your community, in your country, in your Church?
• Does this consider the unique gifts each gender is given, or does it treat each as just a "plug-in-replacement" for the other?
• Compare the attitude of our Church with the attitude of Jesus, but not in a superficial or politically motivated way.
5) Concluding Prayer
God, examine me and know my heart,
test me and know my concerns.
Make sure that I am not on my way to ruin,
and guide me on the road of eternity. (Ps 139:23-24)