The big news in the Catholic world yesterday was Pope Francis’ interview with the Jesuit editor of La Civiltà Cattolica, translated and published in America magazine, here.
The mainline press has emphasized his remarks on issues on sexual issues, often without putting the pope’s remarks in context.
But his remarks on prayer and discernment, as well as his critical remarks on his past and his acknowledgement of himself as a sinner, are what ought to move us to conversion.
Pope Francis also remarked that “We must … investigate further the role of women in the church.”
Perhaps we should start with today’s Gospel, Luke 8: 1-3.
Jesus is going around preaching the Good News, accompanied by the apostles and some women – including Mary of Magdala and others. These provided for this traveling team from their own resources.
Mary and the women seem to be the same women who prepared Jesus’ body for burial and were the first witnesses to the resurrection when they went to the tomb on Easter morning.
These women show us the church as a community of sharing and of witnessing. They provide for Jesus and the apostles from their own resources. They show more courage than the apostles when they accompany Jesus at Calvary, help in burying him, and then go to the tomb on Easter morn.
They are women of courage, not afraid to accompany Christ, not afraid to put their lives in precarious places – as many women still do.
I think of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo in Argentina and the many groups of mothers of the disappeared throughout Latin America who faced repressive governments.
I think of the religious women who serve among the poorest and those on the margin.
Pope Francis noted in the interview that
Religious men and women are prophets…. In the church, the religious are called to be prophets in particular by demonstrating how Jesus lived on this earth, and to proclaim how the kingdom of God will be in its perfection. A religious must never give up prophecy.… Prophecy makes noise, uproar, some say ‘a mess.’ But in reality, the charism of religious people is like yeast: prophecy announces the spirit of the Gospel.
The women in today’s Gospel and many women throughout the history of the church have been prophets, witness of the Reign of God.
Their lives challenge us to be witnesses to the risen Christ in the midst of human suffering and poverty – even as we care for each other out of our own resources.