April 5, 2013
At both the Easter Vigil and at the subsequent Wednesday audience, Pope Francis talked about the women at the tomb, they being the first after the angels to witness the Resurrection. Of course, the Resurrection is the great victory of Christ over sin and death, one that we share if we follow Him, our ultimate reward for faithfulness.
The world wants to tell us women who we should be, never mind who we are and what our role in God’s plan is. We actually have a variety of roles, but they can be synthesized into the acts of nurturing the Faith through love and carrying that witness down through the generations whether we have children or not. Our true legacy isn’t that family recipe, but our example of self sacrifice and caring in the name of the Lord.
Pope Francis presented the women as an example to all Christians in his Wednesday audience:
… I would like to dwell the second, on testimony in the form of the accounts that we find in the Gospels. First, we note that the first witnesses to this event were the women. At dawn, they go to the tomb to anoint the body of Jesus, and find the first sign: the empty tomb (Mk 16:1). This is followed by an encounter with a Messenger of God who proclaims: Jesus of Nazareth, the Crucified One, he is not here, he is risen (cf. vv. 5-6). The women are driven by love and know how to accept this proclamation with faith: they believe, and immediately transmit it, they do not keep it for themselves. They cannot contain the joy of knowing that Jesus is alive, the hope that fills their heart.
This should also be the same in our lives. Let us feel the joy of being Christian! We believe in the Risen One who has conquered evil and death! Let us also have the courage to “go out” to bring this joy and light to all the places of our lives! The Resurrection of Christ is our greatest certainty, it is our most precious treasure! How can we not share this treasure, this beautiful certainty with others! It’s not just for us, it’s to be transmitted, shared with others this is our testimony!
Another element. In the professions of faith of the New Testament, only men are remembered as witnesses of the Resurrection, the Apostles, but not the women. This is because, according to the Jewish law of the time, women and children were not considered reliable, credible witnesses.
In the Gospels, however, women have a primary, fundamental role. Here we can see an argument in favor of the historicity of the Resurrection: if it were invented, in the context of that time it would not have been linked to the testimony of women. Instead, the evangelists simply narrate what happened: the women were the first witnesses.
This tells us that God does not choose according to human criteria: the first witnesses of the birth of Jesus are the shepherds, simple and humble people, the first witnesses of the Resurrection are women. This is beautiful, and this is the mission of women, of mothers and women, to give witness to their children and grandchildren that Christ is Risen! Mothers go forward with this witness!
What matters to God is our heart, if we are open to Him, if we are like trusting children. But this also leads us to reflect on how in the Church and in the journey of faith, women have had and still have a special role in opening doors to the Lord, in following him and communicating his face, because the eyes of faith always need the simple and profound look of love.
That “simple and profound look of love” is something women do well. I really don’t know why this is so, but it seems borne out in the lives of the many women saints throughout the ages. It seems to be part of the expression of womanhood as far as I can tell. It leads to great deeds whether hidden or out there for everyone to see in their signs of contradiction to the world.
I think of the Dorothy Days of this world, of all the women who started hospitals and educational institutions for the poor, the women missionaries who undertook hardships to live and work in primitive conditions in what today we call third world countries but lands which have existed throughout the ages, the fine women who share their faith and love of Christ through blogging. I think of St. Gianna Molla who died saving her child – a great witness of nurturing motherhood, and the many mothers like her who may not die for their children, but certainly give their lives for them out of love of God.
What doors to the Lord will we open today to bring the joy and hope of the Risen Christ to others? What obstacles do we need to remove from our lives so that we may be “driven by love?”
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