Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Weaker Gender?

Easter Saturday

Today's Word:
Acts 4:13-21 ("What are we to do with the followers of Jesus?"
Psalm 118:14-21 (I will praise you, Lord; for you have rescued me)
Mark 16:9-15 (Jesus appears to the Eleven and rebukes them for their weak faith in failing to believe Mary Magdalene's witness)

I decided as I sat down this morning that I was going to push as much as possible to keep up reflecting and writing at least until Pentecost Sunday. That's May 31 - six weeks from tomorrow - at least 43 more days.

Then my mind went totally blank and I couldn't come up with anything. I moved away from my desk, and went about my business.

Now, some seven hours later, the obvious is staring me in the face.

One of the details about Jesus' resurrection that is consistent in all four Gospels: Upon his exit from the tomb, the message is first received by women. Noted among them is Mary Magdalene, who is perhaps the most fervent of Jesus' female believers apart from his mother.

The gospels are not clear whether Mary or the other women believe immediately upon learning of the news. I am guessing that they are, based on what I've come to understand over the course of my journey in faith.

On the whole, women have a stronger sense of spirituality than men. I say this in part because I've been taught that women are 'wired' that way; the 'left vs. right' brain balance tends to prove this out. Yes, there are great spiritual men; the Church saw to it that we know of them. However, most of the ones we know about weren't married, to my best knowledge. The first Christian leader after Jesus - Peter - was married, as his mother-in-law was the subject of a miraculous cure.

There's an old adage, "Behind every good man stands a great woman." Again, I see this as true. It's clearly evident that they were meant to be. They are the ones who bear, give birth, and nurse children. As Jesus walked the "Via Dolorosa" on the day of his crucifixion, the women were there weeping for him, attending to his what little comfort they could give him. They went to anoint his body after his burial. The men? We don't even read directions, let alone ask for them. Peter's a real good example of this, as I've already observed.

Is it any surprise, then, that the remaining apostles balked at the report from Mary and the other women that they'd been told that Jesus had been raised, that they'd even seen Him? Not at all. Nor should it be surprising that Jesus might call the guys on the carpet for it. The theme of weak faith and a potentially frustrated Jesus is consistent in Mark's gospel. Be that as it may, this sets the stage for the development of the Christian faith - one where women's roles are more prominent than they have ever been in a patriarchal society.

It's important to understand going forward, then and now, that the ideal in Christian ministry should be collaborative. It will not be easy for the New Testament authors to define this, but Luke and Paul of Tarsus manage to at least put this on the table.

To all of the wonderful ladies who have helped me grow in wisdom and spirit - all the way from my mother and grandmothers through the Sisters of Mercy who taught me in school; from the women who assisted me in ministry formation and those who stand beside their husbands in ministry to those who are ministers themselves; and last, but certainly not least; to my dearest wife and companion, who always challenges me lovingly to be my best: You are not weak. You are strong.

Thank you with all my heart.

No comments:

Post a Comment