March 8 is International Women’s Day in honor of women, and to raise awareness about gender equality. This is a good day to be reminded once again about the role of the Christian faith on gender issues.
It is disappointing to note that the patriarchal perspective still exists in the Christian church. It is also sad that the Bible is even being used to degrade women. It is now a good time to go back to Jesus Christ, and learn straight from Him.
What can we learn from Jesus?
Like Jesus, we must affirm the role of women in spreading the Gospel. There are many events in the Gospels that affirmed the role of women as bearers of the Gospel.
Let me share two stories:
First, the story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman.
In John 4, Jesus had a lengthy conversation with a Samaritan woman beside Jacob’s well in Samaria. It great to note that John was able to record this story. The disciples were not around to hear their conversation. The only explanation is that Jesus relayed this story to them because it was an important eye-opener for the disciples.
Jesus revealed to the Samaritan woman who has five husbands that He is the living water, and the Messiah, whom they are waiting for. Because of this, the woman became a transformed individual, and became an evanglist who invited the people to come and hear the words of Jesus the Christ.
Second, the story of Jesus and Mary Magdalene.
It is recorded in the four Gospels that when Jesus has resurrected from the dead, the first person to whom He appeared was Mary Magdalene, and then to the other Mary. If this account is not true, then the Gospels would not have written it. The male writers of the Gospels could have changed the story to make Peter or the other male disciples as the first to arrive, but they did not. Why? Because it was a true story.
Because of this, Mary Magdalene became the first person to spread the Good News of the resurrection of Jesus.
If Jesus could entrust to Mary Magdalene the greatest story of His resurrection, then who are we not to entrust women with the role of spreading the Gospel.
It is to be noted also that in Luke 8, Mary Magdalene was with Jesus and the twelve disciples when they went through cities and villages to spread the good news of the kingdom of God.
In the midst of a patriarchal society, Jesus was not afraid to say and do something to uplift the plight of women. As Christians, we must do the same.
May God bless us all!
Rev. Francis Neil G. Jalando-on
Director, Office of Communications
Central Philippine University