In today’s short, but insightful gospel, three women are described as helping the twelve apostles, providing assistance from their resources. Mary, Susanna, and Joanna... and MANY OTHERS served the mission of spreading the gospel. Women were an essential part of the early church and its development after the ascension of Christ. Without the efforts and love of these foundational women, the church could never have grown and flourished.
Throughout its history, the church has grown and been strengthened through the witness of women, and I’m not just referring to the nuns. Women from all walks of life have been the backbone of the church. How so? Through caring, teaching, leading, writing, praying, learning, witnessing. And much more.We tend to focus on the ordained, the hierarchy, as the visible witnesses of leadership and teaching. This focus on a tiny group of men has done untold damage to the church and her ability to read the signs of the times and face painful internal realities. When you lop off 50% of the population of the church, preventing their voice from being heard, the mission of Christ and his church is impaired.
The church is moving through a time of discernment as to how leadership is best exercised and what comprises this leadership. Who exactly makes up the hierarchical structures of the church? How is authority expressed and who are the key players? Is authority and decision making left to the ordained? If the voice of the laity, particularly women, since they have no voice in the hierarchy, is not heard, the mission of the church will most definitely fail.