on women

Perhaps it's because of my current ministries with women emerging from situations of violence and oppression (domestic violence and human trafficking), but I found today's liturgical readings very interesting, in particular in their treatment of women in similar situations.

In the first reading we hear about Susanna. Susanna was a "god fearing woman," wife and mother, who narrowly escaped being sexually assaulted by using her own wits, and instead was falsely accused of adultery and condemned to death. She was spared this cruel faith by the actions of a wise and compassionate man. (Dn 13:1-9, 15-17, 19-30, 33-62 or 13:41c-62)

In the Gospel we hear of the unnamed woman accused of adultery and about to be stoned to death. She also escapes this cruel fate due to the nonviolent actions and accompaniment of a wise and compassionate man - Jesus. (Jn 8:1-11)

Both of these stories take place in a patriarchal system where women are held accountable for the sexual misdeeds of men, often with their own lives. My experiences working with victims of domestic violence and human trafficking make me realize that this is still true in many cases. Like Susanna, women's stories of violence and abuse are often not believed. Like the woman in the Gospel, women often find themselves powerless and unable to defend themselves.

In both stories, it is the actions of a wise and compassionate individual that made the difference between life and death for women caught in violent and oppressive situations.

In the stories I've heard from women emerging from situations of domestic violence and human trafficking today, this need is just as strong now in our society.

I haven't gone into too much detail about my current ministries, especially as it relates to the women I'm working with. This is to protect their right to confidentiality. What I can tell you is that what I am doing is very small in comparison to the need - especially during the short time of my ministry experience. But the need is so very great, and I am honored to be working with people who are committed to accompanying these women, empowering them and helping them to find new life, just as Jesus did in today's Gospel story.

1 comment:

Lisa said...

Very powerful reflections, Susan. Lately this scriptures with women in them have been inviting me to re-consider my role in the story, to imagine myself as that woman in the story. It's definitely opening new insights and paths of reflection.