Commentary on Luke 8:1-3
This passage follows immediately from yesterday’s about the sinful woman in the house of Simon the Pharisee. It is one of those summary passages describing in general terms the work of Jesus.
He is accompanied by the chosen Twelve, his co-operators in the preaching of the word and the establishing of the Kingdom. And it is precisely the Good News (the Gospel) about the Kingdom that they are preaching in word and demonstrating in practice.
What is noteworthy here – and it is unique to Luke – is the mention of many women also travelling in the company of Jesus. Some of them were women who had been healed of evil spirits. One is mentioned by name, Mary of Magdala, from whom seven evil spirits had been exorcised. The number seven is not to be taken literally but indicates the woman had formerly been in a seriously immoral state. She appears very prominently in John’s gospel as someone very close to Jesus and he describes her as the first witness of the Resurrection. It is possible, too, that the “sinful woman” in the house of Simon the Pharisee was also in the group.
Some of the other women seem to be of more ample means and higher social rank. One of them was Joanna, the wife of King Herod’s steward. They helped Jesus and his disciples with their material needs. Once again, Jesus is not embarrassed to travel in the company of these women; nor are they uncomfortable in his.
We see here two roles being played by followers of Jesus. On the one hand are the apostles whose function it is to proclaim the Gospel and establish the Kingdom by word and deed, by preaching and by the example of the communal and shared life they are leading.
The other role is that of disciples who are materially better off and who support the work of proclaiming the Gospel by providing for the material and other needs of the evangelisers.
Both roles are complementary and both, taken together, form the evangelising work of the Church.
A good example are the Sisters of Mother Teresa who would never be able to take care of the destitute dying without the generous help of many benefactors. And the same for many other voluntary groups involved in looking after the disadvantaged.