The Women Apostles, The Women Disciples
One of the arguments Rome makes to prohibit women priests is that only men were apostles. Rome says that Jesus didn't choose any women as apostles. Because of the historical neglect of teachings about Christian women, many Catholics accept this argument at face value: there were only 12 apostles and they were only male. It was therefore Jesus's intention that we have only male priests.
What is an apostle? Is there a difference between an apostle and a disciple? Scripture tells us about 12 men apostles? Were there any others? Were women also apostles? The Eastern Church refers to Mary as an apostle? How can that be? What does that mean?
Do we accept the view that there were only men apostles? If there were women apostles, why haven't we heard about them? If there were women apostles, who were they? Let's explore!
With love and blessings,
post edited by Sophie - 2007/07/03 23:27:06
RE: The Women Apostles, the Women Disciples
Dear friends, What is an apostle? Carol Ann Morrow of americancatholic.org sorts it out in the following way when she writes about the apostleship of Mary Magdalene: Apostle has multiple meanings and most of them apply to Mary Magdalene with ease. She is one sent on a mission. She is an authoritative person sent out to preach the Gospel. She is first to advocate an important belief. Or to put those in other terms, she points the way as disciple, partner and evangelist. Preceding all of that, of course, she is an eyewitness to the wonders of Jesus among us.
- WITNESS: “If the women had not stood by and witnessed the death of Jesus on the cross, then followed his body, accompanied it to the tomb, returned on the first day of the week in the morning to anoint again and found the tomb empty, then announced to the disciples their experience of the risen Lord,” Elizabeth Johnson* suggests that “we wouldn’t know what happened! They [the women, with Mary Magdalene always in their number] are the thread of continuity through the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus.”
- DISCIPLE: “Mary Magdalene is a founding mother of the Church,” says Johnson. “She ministered to Jesus during his own ministry, sharing things with him, and was one of his followers in Galilee. She was a faithful disciple during the last hours of his life.”
- PARTNER: This more accurate assessment of Mary Magdalene’s role in the Easter mystery can support and strengthen women in the Church today. Professor Johnson feels that it can inspire everyone. “Those men who are desirous of partnership with women in the Church also find this a joyous rediscovery. Partnership is a different view of the beginning of our history as a Church, which then gives a different view of what our future could be as well.”
- EVANGELIST: Elizabeth Johnson describes the Acts of the Apostles as Volume II of Luke’s work, telling the history of the early Church. It is Acts 1:14 that she cites: “All these devoted themselves with one accord to prayer, together with some women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.”
What did they proclaim? Mary Magdalene was sent forth from the tomb with the message, “Jesus is risen.” Paul writes, “And if Christ has not been raised, then empty [too] is our preaching; empty, too, your faith” (1 Cor 15:14). That is the Gospel truth, first heard from the lips of a woman, a woman named Mary Magdalene. Throughout the Church year, it is Mary’s message that we are challenged to proclaim with as much boldness and integrity as she did.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ *Elizabeth Johnson, referred to in the text, is Dr. Elizabeth Johnson, CSJ. She earned her Ph.D. at the Catholic University of America and teaches at Fordham University.