Did Jesus discriminate against women? This is the question an article in the Catholic Peace Weekly wants the readers to examine. Looking at the lists of names in the New Testament it is easy to draw this conclusion. However if we look at the whole of the gospel and in depth, Jesus respected women and valued them highly.
Women had an important place in the life and work of Jesus. Like everybody else, he was born from a woman. Mary's role was important and among the saints holds the place of honor.
Women were his disciples. Mary Magdalen is an example of this group. They traveled together with him and helped him financially. She was one of the few who was with him at the crucifixion.
In the gospels, he was very open and warm even with those who were considered sinners by society. The church helped to change the attitude towards women in many parts of the world.
Women have passed down the faith over the years.This was seen from the time of the early church. St. Timothy is a good example of this having received his faith from his grandmother and mother.
In the Mass, we have the names of many women. Many are the women who have been declared saints, women who have devoted themselves to work in hospitals and schools. He gives us the example of Maria Gaetana Agnesi a woman who was the first to have the position of a university professor of mathematics and a woman who devoted a great deal of her time to helping the sick and poor. And we have the great number of religious sisters who have devoted themselves to the marginalized in society.
However, the question does come up often: why did he limit the Apostles to males only? Often we hear that it was the custom of the times and the culture in which he lived. Jesus, however, did not follow the customs of the times in his actions. Was it not Mary Magdalen who was the first one to receive the message of the resurrection and the first to bring it to the disciples when society considered the woman's witnessing less than that of the male. She was considered the Apostle to the apostles.
From the time of Jesus, the descendants of the apostles have been men. From the scriptures, we can see clearly that both the male and female were considered both equally important, but also not the same. The male connotes fatherhood and the woman motherhood, and he calls each to follow with their own charisma.
In God's eyes, they are both equal, but different. They are to mutually complement each other in the mission he has given to the church.
Most likely the reality we see in the church is what makes the clerical state attractive to certain segments of the community: one in which authority and power are possessed by the clergy. This could change which would make a difference in the way the male presence in the church is seen.