December 8, 2018
Last week I offered some reflections about the Infancy Narratives……recalling the birth of Jesus as reported in Matthew and Luke.
As we begin this second week of Advent 2018, my thoughts are more contemporary but prompted by the wisdom women in Luke: Mary, the mother of Jesus, and her cousin Elizabeth. They are the ones who see and comprehend what is really happening. In the Hebrew Scriptures, by the way, Wisdom is feminine….
We have wisdom women today but, in the church, we have not been such good listeners. An editorial in the National Catholic Reporter (December 4) says it strong and clearly: “This season of expectation, of wonder at the possibility of God with and among us, is a perfect time to sink into that authentic tradition and to contemplate where we’ve gone off track. How did we get to this point of aberration where the clergy culture itself has become the church’s greatest scandal, and our identity as a people of God could be so crimped and co-opted by religious ideologues?”
We have ignored the wisdom women and have allowed the old boys club to shape and control our religious and secular culture. Patriarchy is not a virtue. Frankly I was disappointed when Pope Francis announced last week that archbishops must discipline wayward bishops. Once again the patriarchal pyramid was reconfirmed.
The entire Gospel According to Luke downplays patriarchy and points to women as the beaters of God’s wisdom and truth. The high standing of women in Luke’s Gospel is evident from the beginning with Mary and Elizabeth playing enormously important roles in the history of salvation.
Re-reading Luke, it is also evident that there is concern for widows. They are specifically mentioned (Luke 2:37; 4:25-26; 7:12; 18:3; 20:47; 21:2). Mark 15:41 and Matt 27:55 inform us that women accompanied Jesus during his ministry, but only Luke mentions that the women cared for Jesus out of their own means (Luke 8:1-3). Martha and Mary received Jesus into their home and Mary sat at Jesus’ feet, the position of a disciple (Luke 10:38-42). And of course at the end of Luke, the angel reminds the women (no men there) at the empty tomb that Jesus had said he would rise from the dead on the third day.
And then we read: “Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them told this to the apostles.” And, following this announcement, we read (surprised?) “But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them.” Peter has to confirm that what the women said was true….Creeping paternalism?
So my friends, who are the wisdom women in our lives? In our families, among friends, among colleagues? How can we support and encourage them so that more people not only hear them but really listen to them?
I strongly recommend a book by theologian Sr. Elizabeth Johnson: She Who Is: The Mystery of God in Feminist Theological Discourse.
And may the Holy Spirit sustain all of us with her wisdom!
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