The Church and women
A week ago I had the opportunity to spend some precious moments with the women of my parish in preparation for the parish women’s conference. It was enriching and reassuring as I spoke on the topic; the Church and women. Below is the summary of the talk I gave.
In the time of Jesus’ ministry on earth, woman almost had no voice, especially in the synagogue. Some Christians actually still havd that sort of thinking today, and their argument is based on the fact that Jesus choose twelve apostles and none was a woman, so women have no place in the Church. Those with this conviction should go back to the scriptures to re-discover that the Gospels portray Jesus as someone that not only spoke and interacted with women, but also treated women with compassion, dignity, and respect.
In the Judean culture of the time, the testimonies of women didn’t count, yet they forget that it was a women who first testified to the resurrection of Jesus. The Jewish religious elite believed that women in general should not be taught the Torah/the law or the scriptures, yet Jesus taught Mary, the sister of Martha. Among the Jews women were considered untouchable (unclean) during menses, yet Jesus showed compassion to the woman with the issue of blood who touched the hem of his garment. Some Catholics with this prejudice against women are often seen tactically avoids receiving holy communion from Rev. Sisters simply because they are women, yet the Rev. Sisters baked the bread presented for consecration.They claim the bread is transformed, its no longer ordinary bread but Christ; true, but a woman carried this Jesus in her womb for nine Months. At the crucifixion the men and the apostles ran away, but the women stayed with Jesus to the last.
It was most probably that men were not allowed to speak publicly with none-related women in the Jewish culture of Jesus’ time, yet Jesus broke that wall of separation to extend hand of fellowship to even none-Jewish women. He spoke publicly with the Samaritan woman (Jn. 4|:1- 44) and responded favourably to the faith of the Canaanite woman (Mt. 15:21-28). Though Jesus did not choose any woman to be part of the twelve apostles, he was however friendly, loved and enjoyed their colaboration( Lk. 8:1-3).
Women are not ordained priests in the Catholic Church does not make them irrelevant in the Church, they have very important role to play in the ministry of the Church just as they did at the time of Jesus’ ministry on earth.
When Jesus rose he appeared to Mary-Madelyn and the other women, he turned them into evangelists by sending them to the men. Do not be afraid he said to them, go and tell my brothers that I am alive, tell them to go to Galilee there they will see me (Mt. 28:10). Women still have that evangelism role to play in the Church today, and every woman in the Church is called to rise to that responsibility.
The ordained ministers may for some reason lack the capability to put certain things across that are better expressed by woman. In St. Paul’s letter to Titus 2:4-5, Paul encouraged Titus who was a leader in the early Church to train the older men and the older women, and the older women are to train the younger women. Titus was not to train the younger women, for its better done by women.
The older women may find this task a bit difficult in the Church unless they come together in faith under one umbrella. In her wisdom, the Catholic Church in Nigeria created this one big umbrella under which every woman in the Church must operate, and this umbrella is called Catholic Women Organization (C.W.O.)
The Church in Nigeria especially calls on every woman proud to be a Catholic to be registered under this body. Let every woman who is listening to me this evening not be discourage by anybody or condition from taking her rightful place in the Church, do not deny who you are; a proud Catholic woman. That is who you are, rise to be counted in the Church, and remain standing after been counted to defend the faith. Do not be ashamed of your identity, do not be discouraged by what you hear or see but be encouraged by your faith.
The C.W.O. is not an organization for old women, it is an organization for every woman in the Catholic Church. One of the reasons many younger women are having some challenges in their marriages is because they have disconnected themselves from the older women, they see the older women as “old school.” They must however understand that the so called “new school” cannot stand unless they build on the “old school”. I keep asking; what is wrong with our generation? What is wrong with us the younger ones. We let ourselve be carried away by our youthfulness and disconnect from the old from where we should draw some inspirations. This is a challenge to the older women, let the women of this Church come together, pray together, let’s build the Church and the family of God together. That oneness, that togetherness is a powerful force Jesus enjoyed during his earthly ministry. There is no report in the gospel that those women who accompanied Jesus Christ preached or said anything, they are not quoted anywhere but their companionship, their fellowship and their contributions meant a lot for Jesus and his apostles. I there for call on every Catholic woman to come under this one unique umbrella for the good of the Church.