Memory of the Saints and the Prophets

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Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

You are a chosen race,
a royal priesthood, a holy nation,
a people acquired by God
to proclaim his marvellous works.

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

You will be holy,
because I am holy, thus says the Lord.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The evangelist, as if wanting to give us a synthetic image of the apostolic ministry, shows us Jesus as an itinerant preacher in the company of the "Twelve" and some women. The evangelist has already indicated the pastoral activity at work: he goes from city to city, from village to village, to proclaim the good news of the kingdom. He wants to have with him not only the Twelve but also some women. It is a paradigmatic choice of the new style Jesus brings, and Luke is the only one to make a note of it. The evangelist writes that they "had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities," and had decided to follow Jesus, putting all of their belongings in his and his disciples’ service. They were full members of that new group that Jesus had created, making it a true community. This observation by the evangelist is important because it shows how much Jesus went beyond the customs of his time. It was, in fact, unthinkable, according to rabbinic custom, to allow women into a circle of disciples. Jesus, instead, associated them with his very mission, as we will see in other pages of the Gospel. Three are named, Mary of Magdala, freed from "seven demons," meaning a considerable number of evil spirits; Joanna, a woman close to King Herod, who will also be mentioned in the resurrection account; and Susanna of whom we have no further information. They were probably well-to-do persons drawn by Jesus’ preaching who put their wealth at the service of the Master and of the small group. Already apparent in these few lines is the primacy of discipleship, which overcomes all barriers, even those which seem most difficult to cross, as, for instance, the little esteem that the mentality of the time had for women. For Jesus, what counts is to be a disciple. And discipleship bestows on each one the true and most important dignity: that of proclaiming the Gospel and giving witness to love which is entrusted to all the disciples, beyond each kind of distinction. It is a dignity and also a task, a vocation which associates us to Jesus’ own mission. We must not forget that the first person to whom Jesus entrusted the task of communicating the resurrection was precisely Mary of Magdala. This is why the Orthodox Church calls her "the apostle of the apostles."