Women Relating to the Passion of Christ
Women Relating to the Passion of Christ
From a Seminar on Supportive Relationships
by Rev. Fr. Stépanos Dingilian, Ph.D.
Rev. Fr. Stépanos Dingilian, Ph.D. © 2004
Could there be something about the Christian Faith that made the women very supportive of Christ during his Passion? When we read the Bible, we may get the impression that the women were more supportive of Christ than the men. For instance, during the Crucifixion, the women were standing next to him whereas most of the Disciples, except for one, had ran away: “Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, "Dear woman, here is your son," and to the disciple, "Here is your mother." From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.” (St. John 19:25-27) After the burial, the women went to anoint the body as opposed to the men: “After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.” (St. Matthew 28:1) Is this impression real? Could there have been something about the preaching of Christ that made more sense to the women that perhaps did not at first connect with the men? What could this have been?
It is interesting that when Christ came to Jerusalem for the last time before the Crucifixion, he stated: "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing." (St. Matthew 23:37) In other words, Christ likened himself to a nurturing mother hen trying to gather her brood. Perhaps it is this nurturing aspect of Christ’s preaching that the women were able to relate to, made sense to them. The men however were more used to the spontaneous and immediate action. Just imagine the energy of St. Peter when he states: "Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will." (St. Matthew 26:33) When Jesus stated that St. Peter will disown him, St. Peter still went on: "Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you." (St. Matthew 26:35) On the one hand, we do not hear such great declarations from the women, but they end up next Christ at his Crucifixion.
Perhaps, the women were able to connect to the graceful non-violent approach that Christ demonstrated: “Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him and he will bring justice to the nations. He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets. A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.” (Book of Isaiah 42:1-3) In contrast the men tried to show more physical support: “When Jesus' followers saw what was going to happen, they said, "Lord, should we strike with our swords?" And one of them struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear. But Jesus answered, "No more of this!" And he touched the man's ear and healed him.” (St. Luke 22:49-51) The men were simply not used to this approach to bringing about victory and to building a kingdom. They expected Christ to be more confrontational and show greater physical resistance. Thus, it would make sense that the women seemed to have seen more common sense in the approach that Christ showed in his approach before the Crucifixion than the men would have. After the Crucifixion and Ascension however, it seems that the men also so the wisdom and grace in the approach of Christ and gave their life willingly. Perhaps the women had a greater acceptance than men that the struggle and victory through love involves suffering and perseverance.
It is interesting that this nurturing approach of the Christianity was not only for the spread of the Faith prior to the Ascension, but remained paramount afterwards as well. This sense of nurturing becomes very apparent when we consider the work of the Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Holy Trinity. The Church Creed describes the Holy Spirit as living in and preaching through the Patriarchs, the Prophets, and the Apostles, and preaching the Gospel. The Book of Acts is named “Acts” because it demonstrates the action of the Holy Spirit through the faithful … men and women. One of the older Church writings states that the Holy Spirit speaks through the tongues of human beings. Thus, in all these instances, instead of taking an apparent, visible, and confrontational approach, the Holy Spirit nurtures, inspires, guides, and strengthens the human being so that he or she, the human being would act. These are supportive functions to which women can relate more than men. Perhaps it is for this reason that during the early period of Christianity the women were a very important factor in the spread, growth, and establishment of the Faith.