Thursday, November 9, 2017

The Myrrh-bearers

Susanna was healed by Jesus and traveled with him and the other disciples.  Little is known about Susanna except that she supported Jesus and the disciples.  Luke writes, “The twelve were with him, as well as some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their resources.” (Luke 8:1-3). 

Joanna (Junia) is listed as one of the first witnesses of the Resurrection (Luke 24:10).  She was the wife of Chuza, the steward of the Herod’s household in Tiberias, and the granddaughter of the Jewish high priest Theophilus whom Luke addresses at the opening of his Gospel account. “Since many have undertaken to set down an orderly account of the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed on to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, I too decided, after investigating everything carefully from the very first, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus” (Luke 1:1-3).   As Chuza’s wife Joanna had access to events unfolding in Herod’s court and attitudes towards the early Christian movement that would impact the life and ministry of Paul and the evangelists.  After her conversion Joanna was a benefactor of the disciples and a rich source of information for Luke.

Luke lists Joanna as one of the women who gave news of the Resurrection to the Apostles and were not believed. “Then they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest. Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told this to the apostles. But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them.” (Luke 24:6-11). Chuza feared losing his position in the court after Joanna’s conversion and he divorced her.  Soon afterward she married Andronicus, another Roman convert who was a friend of Paul.  The couple was arrested and imprisoned with Paul who mentions this in his letter to the Romans, “Greet Andronicus and Junia, my relatives who were in prison with me; they are prominent among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was.” (Rom. 16:7). 

Chloe, a Corinthian acquaintance of Paul, is mentioned in 1 Corinthians 1:11. “My brothers and sisters, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you.”  People were divided over whether to follow Paul, Peter or Apollos for spiritual leadership, and Chloe seeks Paul’s help in advising them.  Paul responds by writing that Christ is not divided and all believers should follow Christ and not elevate the preachers of his message.  Paul's letter helped Chloe to make peace within her household.  Nymphas, whom Paul greeted in the Letter to the Colossians, played a similar role in Laodicea.