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… And There Were Many Other Women

Our homily from Palm Sunday, given by our Priest in Charge, Revd Susan Carter

Palm Sunday – Year B

Isaiah 50:4-9a

Psalm 31:9-16

Philippians 1:5-11

Mark 14:1 – 15:47

… And There Were Many Other Women

There were also women looking on from a distance; among them were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome. These used to follow him and provided for him when he was in Galilee; and there were many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem.

“…and there were many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem.”

We know, quite intimately, the names of the men Jesus picked to be his disciples.

They were chosen as he began his ministry way up in the northern part of Israel – in Galilee – far from Jerusalem.

Peter and Andrew, James and John, Judas – they were the men who left their nets and their boats and their homes and took up with this one from Nazareth who called them his disciples. They knew him as Jesus, Lord, master and teacher, rabbi.

But what about the women who followed Jesus? Many of them, as Mark informs us, walked more than 100 miles from northern Galilee as well.

Some of them are known to us.

Mary, the mother of Jesus, had come from their home in Nazareth and was there during the final days.

She had birthed this Son of God, loved him, and labored over him.

Mary had been with Jesus before, in Jerusalem, when he was twelve-years old. Remember, he left them – Joseph and Mary – for three days while he taught in the Temple, in his Father’s house? She had been frantic about losing him.

Mary was one of the women who followed Jesus. She followed her son.

Mary Magdalene, had also followed Jesus.

He had exorcised, cast out, the seven demons that had plagued her. This woman from Magdala, an important fishing and trade and agriculture center in Galilee, had left her home to follow Jesus for a year, along with others supporting him and those who accompanied him.

Mary, the wife of Clopas, had also joined the committed group of followers who trekked from Galilee to Jerusalem. Months of travel, she walked on the dusty roads in Israel and on south to Judea.

And another Mary, this, the mother of James and Joses. She, too, had been on that long, but wonderful journey.

They had gone through Capernaum and Magdala – there for the wedding in Cana – and on south to Nain where Jesus raised from the dead the only son of a widow, returning him to life. That had been a great and touching miracle.

The Marys – all of them – had been in Nazareth and traveled then onto Shechem and Jacob’s well.

Remember, that’s where Jesus had that long conversation with the Samaritan women about the living water, and her husbands. She had told him she had none. He corrected her and reminded her of her five husbands, not including the man she was now with – who wasn’t her own.

On to Ephraim and Jericho and Bethany they went with him – helping and offering sustenance, tending to Jesus and the men he had gathered round him.

And to the crowds of others who were drawn to him. Some were coming out to hear and be healed. Others were following Jesus themselves, wanting to learn more, wanting to be with this Messiah.

There was also Salome, the wife of Zebedee.

She was the mother of James and John, the Sons of Thunder, those hard-headed boys. Two-fisted, they were.

She, too, had come from Galilee, where her husband and sons were fishermen, on the northwestern shore of that lake they called the Sea of Galilee. Tagging after Jesus, helping out, and looking out for her boys.

Then, just days after that fantastic entrance into the city of Jerusalem, from the eastern side, there they stood.

Right there at the foot of those two planks nailed together. And on it, nailed the living body of Jesus – son to one and teacher and messiah to everyone who could bear being there.

They stood there trembling, but ultimately not fearing.

At the foot of the cross were the women: Mary, his mother in deepest grief. Her yearning, and longing, and loss were almost unbearable.

She was not alone, though. Surrounding her were the women who had been on the year-long journey with Jesus, from the shores of Galilee’s lake onward south, up into the hills crowned by Jerusalem with its Temple. Mary of Magdala was there, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome.

And there were many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem.

In this most hideous of times, in this awful moment of execution, the women who had been with Jesus, and who had come to know his mother, stood there with her. They were there at a distance watching.

These women, many whose names we won’t know in this life, are an example for us. They are an example for us, because they show us the power that comforting one another can have.

They show us the incredible power of love when there is nothing else to be done.

They show us God’s call for all of us to be there – even in times when we can only watch. Wait and watch.


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