concerning 'the Dignity and Vocation of Women', 'Mulieris Dignitatem'
Jesus Christ and women
Online Congress January - September
concerning the Dignity
and Vocation of Women,
Encyclical Letter by Pope John Paul II (30 September
It is universally admitted - even by people with a critical attitude toward the Christian message - that in the eyes of his contemporaries Christ became a promoter of women's true dignity and of the vocation corresponding to this dignity. At times this caused wonder, surprise, often to the point of scandal: "They marveled that he was talking with a woman," (John 4:27) because this behavior differed from that of his contemporaries. even Christ's own disciples "marveled." The Pharisee to whose house the sinful woman went to anoint Jesus' feet with perfumed oil "said to himself, 'If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner'." (Luke 7:39) Even greater dismay or even "holy indignation" must have filled the self-satisfied hearers of Christ's words: "The tax collectors and the harlots go into the Kingdom of God before you." (Matthew 21:31)
By speaking and acting in this way, Jesus made it clear that "the mysteries of the kingdom" were known to him in every detail. He also "knew what was in a human being," (John 2:25) in his innermost being, in his "heart." He was a witness of God's eternal plan for the human being, created in his own image and likeness as man and woman. He was also perfectly aware of the consequences of sin, of that "mystery of iniquity" working in human hearts as the bitter fruit of the obscuring of the divine image. (Mulieris Dignitatem § 12)
We just print some excerpts here. It is worth reading the whole text.
Paragraphs in Mulieris Dignitatem
. . The principle of this "ethos," which from the beginning marks the reality of creation, is now confirmed by Christ in opposition to that tradition which discriminated against women. In this tradition the male "dominated," without having proper regard for woman and for her dignity, which the "ethos" of creation made the basis of the mutual relationships of two people united in marriage. This "ethos" is recalled and confirmed by Christ's words. (Mulieris Dignitatem § 13)
In all of Jesus' teaching, as well as in his behavior, one can find nothing which reflects the discrimination against women prevalent in his day. On the contrary, his words and works always express the respect and honor due to women. The woman with a stoop is called a "daughter of Abraham," (Luke 13:16) while in the whole Bible the title "son of Abraham" is used only of men. . . This way of speaking to and about women, as well as his manner of treating them, clearly constitutes an "innovation" with respect to the prevailing custom at that time. (Mulieris Dignitatem § 13)
From the beginning of Christ's mission, women show to him and to his mystery a special sensitivity which is characteristic of their femininity. It must also be said that this is especially confirmed in the paschal mystery, not only at the cross, but also at the dawn of the resurrection. The women are the first at the tomb. They are the first to find it empty. They are the first to hear: "He is not here. He has risen, as he said." (Matthew 28:6) They are the first to embrace his feet. (Cf. Matthew 28:9) They are also the first to be called to announce this truth to the apostles. (Cf. Matthew 28:1- 10; Luke 24:8-11) (Mulieris Dignitatem § 16)
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