Breaking the glass ceiling -Luke 8:1-3
This summary passage is unique to Luke and accords the important role he assigns to women. We have been speaking of the reconstituted Israel in the Gospel of Luke which began with the choosing of the twelve apostles in Luke 6:12. These apostles will be Jesus’ emissaries who continue his kingdom proclamation and are commissioned to preach the Christ event or as Luke will call it, ‘the word of God’; a phrase used 30 times in Luke and Acts. This is a rare phrase for the other evangelists as you barely find them using it.
In choosing the twelve, Jesus had presented a great symbol of unity from diversity; fisherman, a zealot. Galileans, a Judean (Judas of Iscariot) a toll collector, one with a Greek name (Philip). Women now comprise the second element of the band of reconstituted Israel and this would have been considered strange and very revolutionary at the time of Jesus for both the Gentile and Jewish audience.
While it was not uncommon for women to support rabbis and their disciples out of their own money, property or food stuff it was certainly unheard of if not scandalous for a woman to leave her home and travel with a rabbi. What made eyebrows rise even further is that this band of women included some from whom demons had been cast out.
Among the three women mentioned are Mary of Magdala from who seven demons have been cast out. She is not to be confused as a sinner woman of the preceding text 7:36-50 and there is no evidence that she is a ‘prostitute’ as made out by many enthusiastic preachers. Then there is Joanna, wife of Chuza, the manager of Herod Antipas’ estate and a person of position and means. Finally, there is Suzanna of which we know little. However, scripture mentions that these three women were also joined by many more women.
The text of today indicates that these women were involved in the proclamation of the Good News of the Kingdom of God and providing for Jesus and the twelve out of their resources. This is a very powerful piece of information. The Gospel writer is highlighting a ‘reconciliation’ and collaboration between men and women in the inner circle of Jesus.
In order to understand this collective calling to discipleship, irrespective of gender, one needs to also read Luke 23:49-24-12 in which women are seen at the foot of the cross as ‘full members’ of the disciples of Jesus and not some appendix. It is they who have followed him from Galilee and stand at a distance watching the death of Jesus (Luke 23:49). It is they who follow the body to the tomb and see how it was laid and return with the spices and ointments (23: 55&56). It is they who come to the tomb early at dawn with the prepared spices and find the stone rolled away from the tomb (24:1). It is to them that the two men in dazzling clothes appear announcing that he has risen (24: 4-9). Once again, we are told that among these women were Mary of Magdala, Joanna, Mary the mother of James and the other women who proclaimed the resurrection to the disbelieving male disciples who dismissed the Easter proclamation as ‘idle tales’.
Luke is making himself awfully clear; you can’t isolate the women when you use the word disciple. The male bastion of disciples was broken. Now when the reader reads of the word disciples in 8:4 – 24: 11 they must include the women in that group.
These faithful women are witnesses of what Jesus has done in Galilee, on the road to Jerusalem, and in Jerusalem, even at the last supper. They preach the Gospel they have witnessed and will received the promised Holy Spirit in Acts 1-2
The glass ceiling has been broken