Thursday, April 28, 2011

Claire Bangasser on Holy Women as Apostles of the Resurrection

And one final update/postscript today: as I blogged during Holy Week about the questions the Elizabeth Johnson case raises re: the bishops' teaching authority, I noted the role that the holy women of the gospels played as Jesus was crucified and resurrected.  I noted that it was the women among Jesus's disciples who walked with him to the cross and who first found him risen from the dead, and because of their fidelity to Jesus and their witnessing of the resurrection, these holy women then challenged Peter to find his faith again--after he had abandoned Jesus during his passion.

And I wrote that if the bishops want to regain their authority as apostolic teachers (this is the central claim of Cardinal Wuerl's letter about the bishops' authority following the Elizabeth Johnson case: that bishops are the primary teachers in the church as successors of the apostles), then, like Peter, they will seek out the  faithful, exemplary women within the community who follow Jesus to the cross and witness his resurrection, and sit at their feet.  And they will learn from these women apostles.

And now I'd like to take note of Claire Bangasser's superb Easter meditation this week entitled "Apostles of the Resurrection," which reflects on these same themes.  As Claire notes, Jesus gave women a role they had never had in his Jewish community prior to him, and which they have never had in any male-dominated religion.  This role--this apostolic role for women--lasted within the Christian church only up to the period of Constantine, when the church adopted the style, governance structures, and mores of the rulers of the Roman Empire--including its patriarchal and misogynistic cultural practices.

From which point, Claire notes, women have been systematically marginalized until remarkable women theologians of the post-Vatican II period began reclaiming women's rightful place in the church and re-reading the scriptures to ferret out the passages concealed or obscured by post-Constantinean misogyny, which show that women played a primary role--as apostles--within the first community of Jesus's followers.  Theologians like Elizabeth Johnson, Elizabeth Schüssler-Fiorenza, Joan Chittister, Rosemary Radford-Ruether, and many others . . . .

Claire's conclusion: 

‘Do not be afraid,’ Jesus said to the women he met after his Resurrection. ‘Do not be afraid,’ Jesus tells us today. Be what you have always been: bold and strong. Go and proclaim my message of hope to all who are marginalized and left by the side of the road... 

The Resurrected One, Cosmic Christ, is pulling everyone of us toward Godde, each of us as we are, generously included et gloriously loved.

In His name. 

And that strikes me as a wonderful meditation point for this Easter week--and very beautifully put.

(And, of course, amidst the Easter joy of this week, tragedy and great suffering for many people in my part of the country, with the tornadoes across parts of the South yesterday, and terrible loss of life in Alabama, along with Mississippi, Georgia, and Tennessee.  I feel a particular connection to the people of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, where so much of the damage occurred, and where so many people were killed.  My grandfather was born in Tuscaloosa Co., and I have deep roots going back to the formation of the county on his side of my family.  In the midst of life, we are in death, though we're an Easter people who look for the final victory of life over death . . . .)

No comments: