If you think there were no strong women in Jesus’ life you would be wrong. There was Mary of Magdalene, Mary the sister of Martha and Martha herself, the Samaritan woman who sought after Jesus’ help to cure her sister and wouldn’t take no for an answer, and of course, there was Jesus’ mother, Mary, whom God the Father chose wisely.
In this reading from Luke (1: 39-56), Mary who is with child visits her elder cousin Elizabeth, who is also with child — the child who will become John the Baptist. Upon Mary’s greeting, the child in Elizabeth’s womb leaps with joy. And Elizabeth is amazed.
“Blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb.
And how does this happen to me,
that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears,
the infant in my womb leaped for joy.
Blessed are you who believed
that what was spoken to you by the Lord
would be fulfilled.”
(This, by the way, is the origin of the Catholic prayer to Mary, the Hail Mary.)
And Mary shows both great faith and great strength as she replies:
“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me
and holy is his Name.”
And then Mary goes on to list the great things that God has done for all of Israel.
Mary was a woman of great faith, putting all of that faith on the line when the Angel of the Lord came to her and announced the favor of the Lord was upon her and she accepted her role to become the Mother of Jesus, the Son of God. That took real strength.
It also took great strength when Mary and Joseph thought they had lost 12-year-old Jesus in Jerusalem, to thankfully find him in the Temple preaching. And to see him leave home to take on his ministry yet turned away by those in his own community. Then to be turned away by him when they sought him on the road. But most especially, it took strength and faith to watch Jesus dying on the Cross.
God the Father surrounded Jesus with the right people, including strong women, especially his mother Mary. It’s unfortunate that The Church shies away from women leaders in ministry when we have such wonderful examples to draw from in scripture.