The Female Disciples
The twelve men chosen by Jesus for the ministry of evangelization weren't the his only followers. There were also female disciples of Jesus and we find many exemplary women such as Mary and Martha of Bethany, Mary of Magdelene, and Mary the mother of God. These women didn't abandon Jesus in the last hours of his passion. They were at the foot of the cross until his last breath, while the twelve ran and hid. These women are all examples to Christians, living and dying for their faith. There are many examples in the Gospel where we see the female followers of Jesus always at his side. In those times women couldn't even leave their homes without a male escort or speak in public, so the simple fact that Jesus permitted their presence among his disciples would've caused controversy.
Many times Jesus takes the initiative, seeing the situation of women and attempts to fix the problems of the jewish society of antiquity. The episode with the samaritan woman is one of the best examples that we can study (John 4:1-42). It all starts at a well, a well that seems to be the well of Jacob. Wells were very important in the Old Testament, showing up in the stories of Jacob, Isaac, and Moses, each time resulting in the courting of a future wife. It’s clear that John doesn’t name the woman, because she is a representative of the Kingdom of the North, Samaria. In effect, Jesus finds a woman, that symbolizes the people of Samaria, and begins to speak with her inviting her to the true faith in the God of Israel. The samaritans had intermarried with the pagans after their destruction by the syrians and the woman’s five marriages symbolize the five pagan gods that the syrians had brought and integrated into samarian society.
After their conversation, the woman becomes a disciple of Jesus, preaching his message to her people resulting in the conversion of Samaria. This simple task not even the apostle had realized yet, and they don’t believe faithfully in Jesus until after the resurrection. But this woman achieves it after only one conversation with him, clearly demonstrating the importance of women as disciples.
The Samaritan woman was an exemplary figure as a disciple of Jesus, who accepts his message, puts his teaching in practice, and invites her people to conversion. There is nothing more that Jesus could’ve asked of her. And if the twelve learned as quickly and easily as her, maybe Jesus wouldn’t have had to work so hard teaching them. And maybe that’s why he gave Simon Peter the name Kefas or “Rock,” for being so hard-headed.