You are no longer strangers and sojourners,
but you are fellow citizens with the holy ones
and members of the household of God,
built upon the foundation of the Apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the capstone. (Eph 2:19-22)
Jesus went up to the mountain to pray,
and he spent the night in prayer to God.
When day came, he called his disciples to himself,
and from them he chose Twelve, whom he also named Apostles… (Lk 6:12-16)
When praying the Daily Readings, sometimes I recognize a loved passage and snuggle up in the warmth that glows in my heart. On occasion I feel indifferent and wonder what Godde wants to tell me when my heart remains so blah about it. Once in a while, some passages entertain me for the different way folks reacted way back then. Very rarely now, do I feel anger.
Today, Paul’s passage from Ephesians is one of those loved lines which open my heart to a deep joy. Every word adds to a blissful feeling of ‘belonging.’ I am no longer a stranger and a sojourner; I am a fellow citizens with the holy ones; I am a member of the household of Godde. Together with all the others, we are growing into a temple sacred in the Lord, a dwelling place of Godde in the Spirit. What more can I want?
Comes the Gospel where Jesus goes up to the mountain to spend time with Godde. Coming back down, he calls his disciples and chooses twelve apostles. All men. We all know the story, don’t we? Each Synoptic gospel includes it. It is “part of the early Christian tradition.”
As I read the Gospel, I start running toward the mountain where Jesus likes to pray. I am in luck, he is there, lost in prayer. I remain at a distance, but he notices me somehow. I move closer. Woman, why are you in tears?, he asks. I am crying, rabbi, because two thousand years ago you chose twelve men for each of the Jewish tribes. It is an unavoidable fact. So as a woman, I can only be a second-class citizen in the household of Godde, or so I am told by some of your priests and followers.
When someone cries in the presence of Jesus, Jesus takes that person in his arms and gives a long hug. And so I cried on his shoulder. Lo and behold, he had tears in his eyes. Woman, do you really believe I see you as a second-class citizen? I shook my head. No. To Godde nothing is impossible his eyes said to me.
I really wanted a promise from Jesus that all would be well for women in the Church. This he could see and he heard my prayer. But a prayer is not to change Godde but to change myself… Today’s gospel makes me feel on the outside looking in, at the margins, where Jesus walks and holds my hand. The pain is here and I lift it up to Godde as a morning offering.
Just give me your love and your grace, this is enough for me. (St Ignatius of Loyola)
Illustration: Women in Christianity II, Seeroon Yeretzian