Stowaway in the Synagogue

As we hear or read this Sunday’s gospel about Jesus teaching in the synagogue, let’s imagine a different, ever-so-slightly more feminine angle. Here’s her version…

“The people were astonished at his teaching…”

Of course, girls weren’t allowed in the inner parts of the synagogue where the action was. So I had to figure out a way to sneak in and listen, unnoticed.

If I pretended to be cleaning, that usually didn’t attract much attention. The men who couldn’t be bothered with sweeping or mopping assumed “someone else” would do it. They had their lofty sights on more important stuff, like whether to approve this teacher—as though they were experts and it were up to them! With a mop as my excuse and camouflage, I slipped into the fringes of the crowd that day, just close enough to eavesdrop.

The little I could hear was astonishing. The usual synagogue bombast told us how wicked we were, so I wouldn’t mind missing that. But this teacher was different. I strained to catch every word, about a powerful Spirit speaking good news—not to the usual audience of wealthy men, but to the poor. Could that mean me?

He left us with a mystery better than all the certain answers I’d ever heard. Now that I’m brimming with questions, I’ve never felt so alive…

Excerpt from More Hidden Women of the Gospels. OrbisBooks.com, 800-258-5838. Free shipping now!

Robert Ellsberg, Publisher of Orbis Books, writes how Pope Francis “continually moves back and forth between the stories of Jesus and their impact on our lives,” continuing:

“Kathy Coffey does something similar through her creative and imaginative retelling of the stories of often unnamed or unmentioned women in the gospels. In More Hidden Women of the Gospelswhich follows a previous, much-acclaimed work, she lifts up women like “The Daughter of Herodias,” “Mrs. Bartimaeus,” or “The Servant at Cana,” inviting us to imagine our own response to the Galilean rabbi whose journey intersects with our own.”

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