Friday, May 5, 2017

A Rosary for Women

The rosary is a gift from Mary that invites us to reflect on the life of Jesus in a way that will draw us into the graces that are ours through His life, death, and resurrection.

As women, it is important for us to know that, in His life, Jesus noticed and cared for individual women. This helps to make it clear that Jesus will be and is now interested in us as woman and as women. There are many ways to focus our attention toward this knowledge.

As we pray the "traditional" mysteries of the rosary--joyful, sorrowful, glorious, and luminous--we can find a woman in each scene and enter into the mystery with her. For example, when meditating on the Presentation of Jesus in the temple, stand with Anna, the Prophetess and see Jesus through her eyes. At the Resurrection, be with the women who go to the tomb or with Mary Magdalene when Jesus reveals His resurrection to her.

The Gospels do not record for us many encounters of Jesus with women and even fewer conversations with women, but there are some precious gems to be treasured! The meditations that follow suggest five encounters of Jesus with women that can be used when praying the five decades of the rosary.

This encounter begins with Jesus in need. He is tired and thirsty. He asks for water. The woman gives Him water and, already feeling respected by Jesus, she begins to "pick His brain" as it were about the differences between Jews and Samaritans. The conversation is a lengthy one in which Jesus eventually clarifies that "the day is coming and is here now when we will worship in one spirit and in truth." When the woman asks directly about the Messiah who is to come, Jesus reveals to her, a Samaritan woman, that He is the Messiah.

The conversation ends with the woman ready to change her life and reading to the village to share the good news. Jesus, too, has been nurtured by His contact with the woman. He is energized and alert and spends the rest of the day and the following two days teaching the people of Samaria.

We are each like the Samaritan woman in some way. What is Jesus asking from you? How does Jesus respect you? What does Jesus reveal to you? Can you allow your relationship with Jesus to change and energize you?

This cure comes in the middle of a very busy moment for Jesus. He has been teaching the crowds when He is approached by Jairus, an important man, to come heal his daughter. A woman who, for many years, has been resourceful, creative, and determined to find a cure for her hemorrhaging, dares to reach out to touch the hem of Jesus' cloak, believing this will cure her. And she is right! However, to her surprise, Jesus notices and turns to find her in the crowd. With some trepidation, she comes forward and tells her story. In a sort of "glad to meet you" gesture, Jesus commends her faith.

We too have faith and know that Jesus is God. We know He has redeemed us and can do all things. However, out faith is not intended as a distant gift, but as an invitation to a relationship with the God who loves us. Jesus looks for us in the crowd, wanting to bless us personally, wanting to hear our story.

This is another woman who Jesus notices in the crowd. Many people are entering the temple to hear Jesus teaching. Jesus notices this woman who is so stooped over that she cannot stand up straight or raise her eyes to notice people's faces or to see the sky. Jesus calls her over, tells her she will be free, and lays His hands on her. She stands erect and begins to praise God.

How are you like this woman? What prevents you from standing for what you believe in? What forms of prejudice or ignorance narrow your vision? From what does Jesus wish to set you free?

Jesus follows Jairus to his home to cure his daughter even though others think the little girl is already dead. To her father, He says, "Do not be afraid. Have faith." To the little girl, He says, "Talitha koum! Little girl, get up." And the little girl gets out of bed and begins to walk around.

What about your "little girl," that spontaneous, careless part of yourself? Do you sometimes think she is "dead?" Overwhelmed by grown-up concerns? To your, Jesus says, "Do not be afraid. Have faith." And to the little girl, "Get up!" That little girl has much to give you and Jesus wants her alive and well.

Mary Magdalene is mentioned by name several times in the gospels, though no with a lot of detail. We are told that Jesus cured her of seven demons, though the actual cure is not described nor is the illness defined. From the cure, we know Mary Magdalene to be a woman of faith. From her other appearances in the gospels, we know her faith to be strong. She is recorded to be at all the major events of Jesus' life, including His crucifixion, His burial, and is the first person to whom the resurrection is revealed.

Like Mary Magdalene, the details of our spiritual life may not always be noted nor acclaimed. This does not diminish our faith of the reality of our relationship with Jesus. All that Jesus does for us and through us enriches the lives of those whose paths we cross.

Written by Sister Mary Frate, D.C.

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