March 8, 2012 § 3 Comments
The hands painted in James Middleton’s 4th Station of the Cross are telling us two interconnected stories: one is the story about how Jesus related to women and the other one is about the intensity of the destitution within which women lived in Jesus’ time.
Jesus talked to women, prayed for them and was moved to tears when He saw their great suffering. He accepted the signs of hospitality that women offered him, healed those who had sinned and brought back to life the men who could protect them. Jesus even engaged in theological discussions with women. In fact, the Samaritan woman was Jesus’ first disciple in her land. He did not really care whether women were Jews or Samaritans and women were among the seventy He sent out to preach the Good News. The word “apostoloi” means “those who are sent” or “messengers.” There were many female apostles in the 70; moreover, Mary Magdalene and the two Mary’s are the first people encountering the Resurrected Jesus.
These stories of inclusion and gender equality are in dramatic contrast with the realities of the cultural climate preceding and during Jesus’ times. The expression “Daughters of Jerusalem,” in Luke 23: 27-31, refers to the poor who lived in the outskirts of the walled city. The poor were the widows and the children who had no right to inheritance and were abandoned by those who held the patriarchal right of inheritance. The poor were the sick, the women and the outcasts, who were forced to live in isolation and abandonment by the complacency of the high priests, the aristocrats and the wealthy.
“Do not weep for me but weep for yourselves and your children.” Jesus was concerned for what would happen to them, since in those days there were three hate-mongers— zealots—whom Josephus called “firebrands.” Jesus contrasts his preaching to theirs as “green wood.” Jesus knew that so much hate would end in a terrible war.
For whom would Jesus be weeping today? Who are those among us weeping and wailing? Who are the hate-mongers in today’s struggles for dignity, justice and peace? How can you and I stop the efforts of the firebrands of our time?
– Anahi Galante