Step #2: Meditatio / Meditate
Use the following meditation to help you reflect more deeply on the Scripture (you may want to read the passage again).
Each spring when our kids received their grade school yearbooks, the first thing they would do was sit down and flip through the pages, eager to see if there were any candid photos of themselves and their friends. If they appeared in more than the requisite school portrait, I would usually hear a little under-the-breath exclamation of “yes!” They were excited to find themselves included in their school’s collective memories of the past year.
I have a similar excitement when I read today’s gospel, as Luke gives us this brief shout-out to Mary of Magdala, Joanna, Susanna, and the “many other” women who followed and financially supported Jesus throughout his ministry. I am grateful to Luke for preserving this snapshot of some of Jesus’ female followers for our collective faith-memory.
Who were these women who accompanied Jesus in his ministry around Galilee along with the Twelve? We know the most about Mary from Magdala. Luke tells us that that seven demons had gone out of her. The number “seven” in the scriptures typically denotes completeness, so before she met Jesus, this Mary must have been completely overtaken by troubles, illness or evil. From other passages, we know that she and Jesus must have then grown to have a special friendship, for she is named in all four gospels as the very first person to whom Jesus appears in his resurrected form. She is often called “the first apostle,” as it is she who then goes and tells the Eleven the astonishing news that the Lord has risen from the dead.
We know far less about Joanna, other than that she is married to man who manages all of King Herod’s assets. From this, we can assume she is a woman who is both financially well-off and comfortable in courtly settings. Accompanying an itinerant preacher would have been a striking change of lifestyle. Of Susanna, all that we have to remember is her name.
One of the overarching themes of Luke’s gospel is the universality of Jesus’ saving love. By including stories about Jesus’ encounters with women as well as men, with people of other nationalities as well as Jews, with both the poor and the well-off, with the sick and the shunned – Luke shows us that Jesus’ love extends to each of us, on this particular Friday in September, just as perfectly as it extended to the diverse group of people who accompanied him years ago.
Our Lord is deeply inclusive – inclusive of each of us, whatever our history, despite our flaws. Today, let’s take a moment to marvel at Jesus’ unmerited, unconditional love for us, and be in awe that he delights to include us among his followers.
Then, in these days when so much attention is focused on what divides us, let’s ask Jesus to show us specific ways we can reach out and extend to others a snapshot of his inclusive love.
St. Mary Magdalene, Joanna and Susanna – pray for us!
Step #3: Oratio / Pray
These questions are to be used to talk to God; have a conversation with the Lord about these questions and what is going on in your heart as you pray today.
Do you feel included in the Lord's love even when you consider your flaws?
Have you ever considered yourself "too flawed" to be loved by Jesus?
What does "being know by Him" and included by Him mean for your future?
Step #4: Contemplatio / Contemplate
In this step, you listen. Stop talking, let God speak to your heart. You may repeat one of these short phrases to focus your mind on the Lord.
"I love you Lord."
"I bring everything to you, including my flaws."
"I am loved by You."
Step #5: Actio / Act
In light of today's reading and your time spent in prayer with the Lord, what concrete action or actions will you take to let this encounter with the Lord bear fruit in you today?
Take some time today to learn about some of the men and women who follow Jesus, more than the big names everyone knows. Ask these three female saints to teach you about their Lord: Mary of Magdala, Joanna, Susanna.
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Today's prayer was prepared by Liz Riegel, who lives in Cary, NC and has worked for the Church in various ministries settings.
If you have anything you'd like our team to pray for, please go to the page of our website called "Prayers" and let us know how we can pray for you today.