Pope Benedict XVI has written a book for children called “The Friends of Jesus”. Revd Bosco Peters of Liturgy.co.nz noticed that every one of the fourteen “friends of Jesus” in the pope’s book was a man, and has produced his own list of female friends to correct this pontifical oversight.
Here is Revd Peters’ list, with links to each woman’s Wikipedia entry:
- Mary – mother of Jesus
- Mary Magdalene – “apostle to the apostles”
- Martha of Bethany
- Mary of Bethany
- Salome mother of James and John
- Mary mother of James and Joses
- Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza
- Prisca/Priscilla (mentioned first on three out of five occasions)
- Junia the apostle
That took Revd Peters to fourteen, the same number as in the pope’s book. As he points out, he could have added many more:
Lois, Eunice, Pilate’s wife [um, maybe…], Peter’s mother-in-law, the daughter of Jairus, the woman with the flow of blood, the daughter of the Syrophoenician woman, the woman accused of adultery, the Samaritan woman,…
As Revd Peters observes, the pope’s choice of friends not only appears to ignore the existence of half the human race, it also overlooks a critical feature of Jesus’ own ministry:
Nothing actually very notable about Jesus in his day and culture having some male friends, what was revolutionary was Jesus’ relationship with women. Jesus’ disciples included women who travelled with him (and, take note, provided a lot of the funding!). It was to Martha that Jesus declared himself to be The Resurrection. Jesus let a woman of ill repute anoint him. In a culture where the testimony of women was not considered valid, Jesus sent Mary Magdalene as the first to proclaim his resurrection to men.
On that last one, I hadn’t realised until Revd Peters pointed it out that Mary Magdalene, “the apostle to the apostles”, is only given a Memorial in the Roman Catholic calendar: the lowest level of saint’s day. Come on, chaps, sort it out…