22 July 2015Luke 8:1-3
“Soon afterwards he went through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. The twelve were with him, as well as certain women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called the Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, and Susanna, and many others who provided for them out of their own resources” (vv. 1-3)
Psalm: Psalm 63:1-8
We note the women who went with Jesus and the disciples had been cured or made whole again. Luke's Gospel unusually names some of them; these women were not anonymous, but known for what had happened to them. In the previous chapter we can read about the woman who anointed Jesus's feet, and Jesus berating Simon the host for choosing not to 'see' or acknowledge the woman, for making her invisible (Luke 7:36-50).
In a society where women depended upon the male of the household - having no rights of their own - it is even more surprising that Luke names some of these women whose previous 'possession', or ailments or status might have diminished them further in the eyes of other men. These women seemed free to travel as they pleased, requiring no permission from others, and had independent resources to offer Jesus and the disciples as they went.
The casual opening of the chapter isdeceptive in its simplicity of stating 'what was the case for the people who went with Jesus'. But it makes me want to think long and hard about the least visible in our faith communities, those subject to unwarranted prejudice or just overlooked as if they were of no importance.
Luke has a habit of 'telling us three times' just to make sure - so in Luke 8:19-21 Jesus seems to turn his back on his mother and brothers who have come to bring him home and speaks of his true family: "my mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it".
For Luke then, Jesus welcomes the weak, the invisible, the vulnerable - those who have been transformed into his family as a sign of the inclusive Sovereignty of God.
- Have you felt what it means to feel unnoticed, unimportant or even invisible in the community of faith? How does it feel? And how might you use that experience to support those who may be feeling this way now?
- Can you identify members of the 'family' who are constantly overlooked or not seen? If so, how might you use that experience to support those who may be feeling this way now?
- Reflect on how, perhaps, that is a strong sign of the Sovereignty of God is an inclusive community of faith.