While on retreat with members of my spirituality group, we celebrated the courage and commitment of Mary Magdalene. The gospel of John (20:1-18) tells this story: Following the crucifixion, Mary Magdalene went to Jesus’ tomb and saw it was empty. She ran back and told the other disciples, who headed to the burial ground. The men verified Mary’s story and left. Mary stayed; it was then that Jesus revealed himself to her. After this encounter, she proclaimed the good news to the other followers: “I have seen the Lord!” As the first witness to the risen Jesus, Mary is called “Apostle to the Apostles,” with a feast day commemorated each year on July 22nd.
Using Mary’s example of faithful service, we told stories of women on whose shoulders we stand. Going around the circle, each person named the contributions of special women – from history, from our ancestors, or from our communities.
- Kay talked about Rose, her grandfather’s wife, who brought him love and comfort after the death of Kay’s grandmother.
- Minhthu mentioned three women: her mother, Madeleine, who died in January at 101 years of age; Elinor Smith, former dean of women at Catholic University (CUA); and her friend, Lotus, who led us in a zoom yoga session during the retreat.
- Kathy spoke about her high school English teacher, who supported her writing, and a grandmother who taught her to sew.
- Anne talked about her grandmother, who instilled a love of gardens and gardening.
- My friend, Virgie, is the one who holds a special place in my heart.
After celebrating these women, Anne relayed a story from a recent homily. Father Vince, a Spiritan missionary, had asked a Maasai chief to pick the village’s best storyteller to help spread the story of Jesus. After praying and discerning, the chief realized that the best storyteller happened to be a woman. And, in a counter-cultural decision, he picked her. The young mother accepted the commission. With her infant strapped to her back, she headed out to spread the faith. Another friend, Mati, who had heard the same sermon, shared an image that represents the woman’s journey.
What can we learn from the Maasai mother and Mary’s examples?
- Trust in yourself.
- Claim the truth as you know it.
- Share the message with others.
Through the ages, women have been sustainers, often despite their contributions being taken for granted or diminished. Women who heed and answer their calling give us hope. During our ceremony, we affirmed the bravery and willingness of special women to let their light shine with a passage from the book of Wisdom: “She is a breath of the power of God.” (Wisdom 7:25). Take these examples to heart and let your light shine.
Question to ponder: What truth are you being called to proclaim?
If you want to walk fast, walk alone. If you want to walk far, walk together.African proverb
© Joan S Grey, 23 JUL 2021 ∞
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