September 19, 2008
Friday of the Twenty-Fourth Week in Ordinary Time
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.
Introductory Prayer: My heavenly Father, you created me out of your infinite love. Even though I have failed to love you as a good child should, still you send me gift upon gift. You sent your Son to redeem me and to make me one with you, in and through your Son. You and your only beloved Son sent your Spirit of Love and Truth, the Holy Spirit, to dwell in me. Open my heart and eyes to all that you have done for me and continue to do for me, so that I will grow in generosity with you, your Church, and all of your children. Perfect me in the fire of your love, and, as you sent your only Son and your most Holy Spirit, send me into this world to set it ablaze.
Petition: Lord Jesus, give me a spirit of steadfast service.
1. Pray the Rosary
We have been exhorted by popes, bishops, priests and saints to pray the rosary often, even daily. Have we taken up this great spiritual aid? When we pray the rosary, we are praying—meditating on—the Gospel. This particular Gospel passage is reflected in the third Luminous Mystery: Jesus proclaims the Kingdom of God. Meditating on the 20 mysteries of the rosary helps us to know Jesus through the significant events of his life and draws us closer to him. Moreover, when we pray the rosary, we approach Jesus through the intercession of his holy mother, Mary. Mary had the closest personal relationship with Christ of any human being in history. It is certain that she helped the holy women of this Gospel passage to know, love and serve her son. She will help us, too, if we will only ask.
2. The Dignity of Women
“In the history of the Church, even from earliest times, there were side-by-side with men a number of women, for whom the response of the Bride to the Bridegroom's redemptive love acquired full expressive force. First we see those women who had personally encountered Christ and followed him. After his departure, together with the Apostles, they "devoted themselves to prayer" in the Upper Room in Jerusalem until the day of Pentecost. On that day the Holy Spirit spoke through "the sons and daughters" of the People of God, thus fulfilling the words of the prophet Joel (cf. Acts 2: 17). These women, and others afterwards, played an active and important role in the life of the early Church, in building up from its foundations the first Christian community - and subsequent communities - through their own charisms and their varied service…. Saint Paul speaks of their ‘hard work’ for Christ, and this hard work indicates the various fields of the Church's apostolic service, beginning with the ‘domestic Church’. For in the latter, ‘sincere faith’ passes from the mother to her children and grandchildren, as was the case in the house of Timothy (cf. 2 Tim 1:5)” (Pope John Paul II, Mulieris Dignitatem, 27). “When it comes to setting women free from every kind of exploitation and domination, the Gospel contains an ever relevant message which goes back to the attitude of Jesus Christ himself. Transcending the established norms of his own culture, Jesus treated women with openness, respect, acceptance and tenderness. In this way he honored the dignity which women have always possessed according to God's plan and in his love” (Pope John Paul II, Letter to Women).
3. The Faithfulness of the Holy Women
The holy women profiled in this passage from Luke’s Gospel followed Jesus and tended to his needs, and the needs of the Twelve. When all but one of the disciples lost courage and left Jesus during his passion, they stayed. They accompanied him to Calvary, they stood at the foot of the cross, and they helped plan for his burial and embalming. For their faithfulness, they were rewarded. Jesus appeared to the women first after his resurrection. They alone were permitted to see the Angels. They were present at the Ascension and at Pentecost, and were probably closer to the Virgin Mary than were the apostles. Their service and faithfulness in the midst of trial and uncertainty was nothing short of heroic. They lived the truth of the statement: “To serve is to reign” (Lumen Gentium, 36).
Dialogue with Christ: Lord Jesus, we have much to learn from the faithful witness of the women in this passage. They were steadfast in their faithfulness and service and never abandoned you. That is how I want my life to be as well. I want you to be able to count on me, Jesus. I am not just a fair-weather friend. When the going gets tough, I will be there for you, just as you are always there for me.
Resolution: I will take time today to call and thank one of the women who made a big difference in my life through her witness of loving sacrifice and service.
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