VATICAN CITY, APRIL 6, 2007 (Zenit.org).- According to the preacher of the Pontifical Household, the women present at Calvary accompanying Jesus were more than pious individuals, they were “mothers of courage.”
Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa delivered that message today in his Good Friday homily at the Celebration of the Lord’s Passion, in St. Peter’s Basilica.
The preacher of the Pontifical Household, speaking of the important role of women in Christianity said: “There has been animated discussion for quite some time about who it was that wanted Jesus’ death: Was it the Jews or Pilate? One thing is certain in any case: It was men and not women.
“No woman was involved, not even indirectly, in his condemnation. Even the only pagan woman named in the accounts, Pilate’s wife, dissociated herself from his condemnation.”
“Jesus said: ‘Blessed is he who is not scandalized by me.’ These women are the only ones who were not scandalized by him,” said the preacher.
He continued: “We must ask ourselves about this fact: Why were the women untroubled by the scandal of the cross? Why did they stay when everything seem finished and even his closest disciples had abandoned him and were secretly planning to go back home?
“Jesus had already given the answer to this question when, replying to Simon, he said of the woman who had washed and kissed his feet, ‘She has loved much!'”
Reasons of the heart
Father Cantalamessa said that the pious women “followed the reasoning of the heart and this did not deceive them. Their presence near the crucified and risen Christ contains a vital teaching for today.”
He said: “Our civilization, dominated by technology, needs a heart to survive in it without being dehumanized. We have to give more room to the ‘reasons of the heart,’ if humanity is not to fail.
“The improvement of man’s intelligence and capacity to know does not go forward at the same rate as improvement in his capacity to love.
“The latter does not seem to count for much and yet we know well that happiness or unhappiness on earth does not depend so much on knowing or not knowing as much as it does on loving or not loving, on being loved or not being loved.”
“It is not hard to understand,” continued the preacher, “why we are so anxious to increase are knowledge, but so worried about increasing our capacity to love: Knowledge automatically translates into power, love into service.”
“Love alone redeems and saves, while science and the thirst for knowledge, by itself, is able to lead Faust and his imitators to damnation,” remarked Father Cantalamessa.
The Capuchin priest continued: “Everyday experience shows us that women can ‘lift us up,’ but they can also cast us down. She too needs to be saved, neither more nor less than man.
“But we must avoid repeating the ancient gnostic mistake according to which woman, in order to save herself, must cease to be a woman and must become a man.”
“Pro-male prejudice is so deeply rooted in society that women themselves have ended up succumbing to it,” said Father Cantalamessa.
“To affirm their dignity, they have sometimes believed it necessary to minimize or deny the difference of the sexes, reducing it to a product of culture,” added the preacher.
Offering the women at Calvary as models for what women should be, Father Cantalamessa continued: “The pious women must not only be admired and honored, but imitated.
“How grateful we must be to the pious women! Along the way to Calvary, their sobbing was the only friendly sound that reached the Savior’s ears; while he hung on the cross, their gaze was the only one that fell upon him with love and compassion.”