|Holy Women at Christ's Tomb by Annibale Carracci|
Today, in the 21st century, we need teach our girls and boys that both men and women played important roles in the ministry of Jesus. All of Jesus’ followers model for everyone what it is like to be a disciple of Jesus.
Many of Jesus’ women followers preformed what we today designate as “priestly functions.” Here are some of their unique contributions:
First to confect the Eucharist: Mary, through her nine-month pregnancy, was the first to confect the Eucharist, the body and blood of Christ. Her consent, “let it be so,” was the first time the Holy Spirit was invoked to consecrate the host. Later, the baby Jesus was placed in a feeding trough, symbolizing that he was to be the mystical nourishment for all creation.
First to preside at a wedding: Mary, Jesus’ mother, was the overseer of a wedding in Cana. She kept track of the festive wine and directed Jesus to replenish it when it ran low.
Engaged Jesus in the longest theological discourse: Jesus held his longest theological conversation with the woman at the well. They discussed, among other things, the nature of “spiritual thirst” and the coming Messiah.
First to engage in missionary work: After Jesus and the Samaritan woman had their theological discussion, she raced off the evangelize her townspeople. This was the first time a follower of Jesus preached the good news.
Chastised Jesus, forcing him to reverse course: When a foreign woman requested Jesus heal her daughter, Jesus refused, calling her a “dog.” This is tantamount to calling her a “bitch.” Nonetheless, she persisted, and Jesus reversed course—the only time Jesus changed his theology when challenged.
First to anoint: Mary of Bethany was the first to preform an anointing, pouring expensive oil on Jesus, thereby, giving him spiritual fortitude to prepare for his arrest and execution.
Stuck with Jesus to the bitter end: Only women disciples followed Jesus to the crucifixion, accompanied his body to the tomb, and returned to preform burial rituals.
First to witness the resurrection: Women were the first to witness the resurrection of Jesus. Christians regard the resurrection as the fundamental doctrine of the faith.
First to be commissioned to preach the good news: The gospels recount that Jesus (or heavenly agents) commissioned Mary Magdalene (and sometimes another woman also named Mary) to go and preach the news of the resurrection. Women, the first to preach the good news to the Twelve, have been called the “apostles to the apostles.”