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Valerie SchultzMarch 19, 2024
Photo from Unsplash.

A Reflection for Monday in the Octave of Easter

Find today’s readings here.

Alleluia! Christ is risen! The Easter season wraps us in joy, but it is also a busy time for Catholic parishes with extra Masses, extra hours for Confession, the Good Friday service, the Saturday night Vigil with the RCIA candidates and so on. My sister works in a parish office as an administrative assistant. She, along with every parish worker, puts in extra hours during the lead-up to Holy Week. After Easter Sunday, they are exhausted. Some parish offices are closed today in gratitude.

Except for the clergy, my sister’s co-workers are all women. Like many parish employees, they are underappreciated and underpaid. But with their faith and dedication, these women keep the parish functioning and able to serve its parishioners.

It’s a familiar scene all over the world.

Catholic women today are the descendants of the women whose stories are told in the Gospels. From the moment of the Incarnation, a holy and willing woman says yes to birthing Jesus. Women listen to him, join him, challenge him, walk with him, care for him, feed him. Women follow Jesus to the foot of the cross: All four gospels record their presence with Jesus as he dies. Women find the stone rolled away from the entrance to Jesus’ tomb on the first Easter Sunday. In today’s Gospel reading, we learn that Mary Magdalene and another Mary (the mother of James and Joseph) are the first to proclaim the empty tomb and to encounter the risen Jesus. They are instructed by Jesus to go and preach the first homily of the Resurrection.

Throughout the Gospel accounts Jesus consistently welcomes women into his circle of believers. He respects them as people, rather than as the second-class citizens of his time. In return, the women who love Jesus are there for him physically and spiritually, sometimes even when Jesus and his disciples have hidden themselves away.

“Do not be afraid,” Jesus tells the women in our Gospel today. “Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.” The women have already seen him. Like my sister and her co-workers, they are present to Jesus. They are ready to go about doing the work of the risen Christ. They are the dependable ones. Today’s reading seems to witness in support of equal opportunity for women under Catholic custom and doctrine, doesn’t it? It’s food for thought. Prepared by women. Alleluia.

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