Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Woman

THE Sacred Scripture records for us the beginning of the woman, when God saw it fit for man not to be alone (Gn). Here we see that the woman is a compliment to the man, not one simply needing the other, but that mutually the two will be a help and a compliment to each other.

Historically, however, it will take some time for the women to have the same rights as men. Let me clarify what we mean by rights. In this time and age we live in, we have invented so many “rights” that it seems nothing is left anymore in the realm of responsibility and prudence. It is also worth observing that the culture of each people defines what are the “rights” granted. Most certainly, there are universal rights accepted by all cultures such as the right to life.

And herein lay the problem and the challenge: what if culture changes, what if culture is intentionally modified? Is it not what we are witnessing now? A culture of unbridled individual freedom, without any reference anymore neither to religion nor to morals. A culture which, call it by any other name, is simply a culture against life, a culture of death.

Going back to Sacred Scripture, we see that sin and death entered through a woman, and it will take another woman to undo and untie this sin and death.

Eve and Mary

Let me liberally quote here an article from the Mary Page maintained by the University of Dayton in Ohio which prides itself to have the biggest collection of books written on Mary in the English language:

Eve's name in Hebrew means "life." She is called Chavvah (in the Septuagint, Eva; in the Vulgate, Heva because she is the mother of all the living (Gn 3:20). Her initial appearance in the Hebrew Scriptures is one of beauty, goodness, wisdom, and life. ... The rabbinic writings praise the beauty and adornment of Eve while commenting on Genesis 2:22: "The Lord God then built up into a woman the rib that he had taken from man." For example, Rabbi Chama ben Chanina (260 C.E.) wrote that certainly God first clothed her (Eve) with twenty-four precious decorations (those which describe the women of Israel in Isaiah 3:18-24) and then God brings her to the man.

Later Jewish writings contrast Eve's disobedience with the fidelity and obedience of the Israelites to God on Mount Sinai. ... In the New Testament, Eve is never mentioned in the Gospels. Adam is mentioned only in Luke's genealogy (Lk 3:38). Eve is mentioned in two Pauline writings:

"For I am jealous of you with the jealousy of God, since I betrothed you to one husband to present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts may be corrupted from a sincere [and pure] commitment to Christ "(2 Cor 11:2-3).

"For Adam was formed first, then Eve. Further, Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and transgressed. But she will be saved through motherhood, provided women persevere in faith and love and holiness, with self-control"(1 Tm 2:13-15).
Both passages emphasize the negative aspects of Eve's role in salvation history. Early Christian writers will contrast Eve's disobedience with Mary's obedience. However, it is only through the comprehensive reading of all texts of the First Testament that we will fully appreciate the greatness of Israel's first mother, Eve, the mother of the living.

Parallels are seen between Mary's dialogue with Gabriel and Eve's dialogue with the serpent (Gn 3:17, Lk 1:28-35). The text of Genesis 3:15 is also compared with the scene of Mary at the foot of the Cross (Jn 19:25-28a). ... One could view the process of salvation history from Eve to Mary as a double movement: first the breaking up of the human race into many disparate individuals, and then the gradual concentration of all expectations of salvation in the Messiah born of Mary, the Mother of God. All the eminent women in the Old Testament are concrete and partial realizations of the primal mother from ancient times (Eve) who perdures and extends herself in them. As the new Adam extends himself in the "Mystical Body" of Christ (the ecclesial community of the new People of God), so also does Mary represent all those "children of God, once dispersed, but now brought together" by her Son.

Jesus' words on the cross, "There is your mother" (Jn 19:27), may point to the popular etymological explanation of Eve's name in Genesis 3:20: "The man called his wife Eve, because she became the mother of all the living." Just as the Church is "the Jerusalem above ... our mother" (Gal 4:26), so also is Mary the mother of believers, who, at the cross, were concretely present in the person "of the disciple whom Jesus loved."

The Rights of the Modern Woman
With Mary and through Mary, we see the authentic feminine soul: both its strength and beauty. Our contemporary time wishes to come to a full circle: that in the name of “liberating” the woman, we wish to take again the path chosen by Eve, a path away from God.

Are we becoming an obstacle to the liberation of the woman when we speak against newly coined rights such as reproductive rights, which is but a euphemism to universal access to contraceptives that includes abortion?

Or are we instead defending the authentic human rights and are even advancing what rightly constitutes as rights.

It is often pointed out that because there are illegal and unsafe abortions being performed in the country, the solution is to legalize and enable women to have their choice of a safe and sanitary abortion. And that because many women die because of pregnancy the proposed solution is not to be pregnant at all.

Our contention is, would it not be more appropriate that since many women die during pregnancy the proper solution would be to provide proper health care during the women’s pregnancy and during childbirth? Not unless of course, we have begun to view pregnancy as disease and a burden.

And that the proper solution to the illegal and unsafe abortion in the country is to have our women the proper options to carry to full term their pregnancy so that abortion would never be an option. And as to the issue of “unwanted” and “unplanned” pregnancy the solution is and will always be the proper value formation of the young that begins in the home.

Moral and sexual permissiveness will never be the solution. When we look back at history of all the great empires and nations of the past, we see that once the people give in to moral depravity the collapse of that nation begins.

Our country is yet at the crossroads again, we can choose the “easy” and comfortable way and adopt the policies and culture of the decaying countries or we can choose the more “difficult” path, less trodden, but leads to God and to the sharing of His divine Life.
May we choose wisely. Ad Jesum per Mariam.

No comments: