Friday of the Twenty-fourth week in Ordinary Time
"Accompanying him were the Twelve and some women"
Jesus, as we know, certainly chose from among his disciples 12 men as Fathers of the new Israel and appointed them "to be with him, and to be sent out to preach" (Mk 3, 14-15).
This fact is obvious; but, in addition to the Twelve, pillars of the Church and fathers of the new People of God, many women were also chosen to number among the disciples. I can only mention very briefly those who followed Jesus himself, beginning with the Prophetess Anna (cf. Lk 2, 36-38), to the Samaritan woman (cf. Jn 4, 1-39), the Syro-Phoenician woman (cf. Mk 7, 24-30), the woman with the haemorrhage (cf. Mt 9, 20-22) and the sinful woman whose sins were forgiven (cf. Lk 7, 36-50).
I will not even refer to the protagonists of some of his effective parables, for example, the housewife who made bread (cf. Mt 13, 33), the woman who lost the drachma (cf. Lk 15, 8-10), the widow who pestered the judge (cf. Lk 18, 1-8). More important for our topic are the women who played an active role in the context of Jesus' mission.
In the first place, we think spontaneously of the Virgin Mary, who with her faith and maternal labours collaborated in a unique way in our Redemption to the point that Elizabeth proclaimed her "Blessed... among women" (Lk 1, 42), adding: "Blessed is she who believed..." (Lk 1, 45). Having become a disciple of her Son, Mary manifested total trust in him at Cana (cf. Jn 2, 5), and followed him to the foot of the Cross where she received from him a maternal mission for all his disciples of all times, represented by John (cf. Jn 19, 25-27).
Then there are various women with roles of responsibility who gravitated in their different capacities around the figure of Jesus. The women who followed Jesus to assist him with their own means, some of whose names Luke has passed down to us, are an eloquent example: Mary of Magdala, Joanna, Susanna and "many others" (cf. Lk 8, 2-3). The Gospels then tell us that the women, unlike the Twelve, did not abandon Jesus in the hour of his Passion (cf. Mt 27, 56, 61; Mk 15, 40). Among them, Mary Magdalene stands out in particular. Not only was she present at the Passion, but she was also the first witness and herald of the Risen One (cf. Jn 20, 1.11-18). It was precisely to Mary Magdalene that St Thomas Aquinas reserved the special title, "Apostle of the Apostles", dedicating to her this beautiful comment: "Just as a woman had announced the words of death to the first man, so also a woman was the first to announce to the Apostles the words of life".