Daily Homily: With Jesus Went the Twelve and Several Women

Friday of the 24th Week in Ordinary Time, Year Two

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1 Corinthians 15:12-20
Psalm 17:1bcd, 6-7, 8b and 15
Luke 8:1-3

Jesus continues to proclaim the Gospel of the Kingdom of God to the towns and villages of Galilee. Jesus is accompanied not only by the Twelve Apostles, but also several woman.

The Gospels tells us several things about these woman. First, they were cured by Jesus of both evil spirits and infirmities. The natural leader of the group, Mary Magdalene, was cured of seven demons. Second, they provided for Jesus and his Apostles out of their resources. The city of Magdala, for example, was an affluent city because of the fish trade there. Mary Magdalene gave not out of her excess money, but from her substance.

Third, the women followed Jesus and ministered to him. Like the Apostles, they responded to Jesus’ call: «Follow me». They listened to Jesus’ teaching and put it into practice. They expressed their love through service. Fourth, they came up with Jesus to Jerusalem. Going up to Jerusalem means more than just a physical journey. It is a spiritual journey that leads to the Cross and to the Resurrection. It means preparing yourself to die with Jesus. It means walking alongside Jesus and walking in the light.

Fifth, the woman were brave enough to approach Jesus as he carried the Cross. They did not abandon Jesus in the hour of his Passion (Pope Benedict XVI, 14 February 2007). Jesus tells the women not to weep for him, but for themselves and for their children. He is making all things new through his passion and obedient sacrifice. This is not a cause for sadness, but joy (Saint Athanasius, Festal Letter 9). A cause for sadness are the unrepentant who remain in their sin and reject God’s mercy and grace.

Sixth, the women who followed Jesus contemplated the mystery of the Cross both from afar (Matthew 27:55) and at the foot of the Cross (John 19:25). Of the Apostles, only John we are told stood by the cross of Jesus. The women, on the other hand, are with Jesus at the Cross: Mary, the Mother of Jesus; Mary, the wife of Clopas; and Mary Magdalene.

Seventh, the women saw where Jesus was laid and prepared spices to anoint Jesus’ Body after the Sabbath rest. Several women hurried to the tomb on the morning of the third day. They are celebrated in the East as the «myrrhbears»: Mary Magdalene, Mary and Martha of Bethany, Joanna, Salome, Susanna, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary the Mother of James and Joseph. They did not find Jesus’ Body but rather encountered the angel who announced the Good News that Jesus is risen! Mary Magdalene became an «Apostle to the Apostles» and announced the Lord’s Resurrection to the Apostles in the Upper Room. «Just as a woman announced the words of death to the first man, so also a woman was the first to announce to the Apostles the words of life» (Thomas Aquinas).

The great mystery of the Resurrection is at the center of the passage we read from Paul’s Letter to the Corinthians. He had to correct the error of those who believed that Christ rose from the dead, but that there is no resurrection of the dead for anyone else. For Paul, the two truths go together. If Christ did not rise from the dead, not only would the apostolic witness be empty but the faith of Christians would be in vain. Furthermore, if Christ did not rise from the dead, then people would still be in their sin.

When we die, our soul separates from the body, the body decays and the soul goes to meet God, while awaiting its reunion with its glorified body. «God, in his almighty power, will definitively grant incorruptible life to our bodies by reuniting them with our souls, through the power of Jesus’ Resurrection» (CCC, 997). All of the dead will rise, «those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment» (John 5:29).

How our bodies will rise on the last day exceeds our imagination and understanding. But our participation in the Eucharist already gives us a foretaste of Christ’s transfiguration of our bodies. As Saint Irenaeus writes, «Just as bread that comes down from the earth, after God’s blessing has been invoked upon it, is no longer ordinary bread, but Eucharist, formed of two things, the one earthly and the other heavenly: so too our bodies, which partake of the Eucharist, are no longer corruptible, but possess the hope of the resurrection» (Adv. haeres., 4, 18, 4-5; CCC, 1000).

Readers may contact Fr Jason Mitchell at mitchelljason2011@gmail.com

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Jason Mitchell

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