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The Everyday Prayer

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Icon of the Holy Face
Church of Sant'Egidio, Rome

Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

This is the Gospel of the poor,
liberation for the imprisoned,
sight for the blind,
freedom for the oppressed.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Luke 8, 1-3

Now it happened that after this he made his way through towns and villages preaching and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. With him went the Twelve,

as well as certain women who had been cured of evil spirits and ailments: Mary surnamed the 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 own resources.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The Son of Man came to serve,
whoever wants to be great
should become servant of all.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

As if wanting to offer a synthetic image of apostolic ministry, the evangelist shows Jesus as a travelling preacher accompanied by “The Twelve” and by some women. It is the pastoral action that the evangelist has already indicated previously: Jesus would go from city to city, from village to village to announce the good news of the kingdom. Jesus chose to have next to him not only the Twelve but also some women. It is an exemplary choice of the new style that Jesus came to establish. Only Luke takes notice of this. Those women, wrote the evangelist, “were healed from evil spirits and infirmity,” and they had chosen to follow Jesus, putting all of their goods in service of him and the disciples. In that sense they were fully part of the new group that Jesus had created, making it a true community. The evangelist’s indication here is important because it shows how much Jesus went beyond the customs of his time. In fact, it was unthinkable in the rabbinic culture of the time to let women into the circle of disciples. Contrary to this mentality, Jesus makes women part of his very mission, as we see in other gospel passages. Luke names three women: Mary of Magdala, freed from “seven demons”; Joanna, a woman close to King Herod, who was named also in the resurrection story; and Susanna of whom not much is said. They were probably wealthy women, attracted by Jesus’ preaching, who put their riches to the service of the Teacher and the small group. Already in these few lines, the primacy of discipleship appears with clarity; a discipleship which overcomes all barriers, even those which seem difficult to surpass, as mentality of the time toward women would have been. For Jesus what matters is being a disciple. Discipleship confers on each person the truest and most important dignity: that of announcing the Gospel and witnessing to the love entrusted to all the disciples, a love which goes beyond any distinction. It is a dignity and also a task-- a vocation--that makes us part of Jesus’ mission. One must not forget that the first person to whom Jesus entrusted the task of communicating the resurrection was Mary of Magdala. For this reason she is called “the apostle of the apostles” in the Orthodox tradition. These women, united with Mary the mother of Jesus, demonstrate how much the Church needs women and their “feminine genius” today and in order to show the mystery of God’s love to the world. These women question the whole Church both on its internal life and its mission about love, about giving life and about mercy and care for the Christian community.

Memory of Jesus crucified