Vatican News is reporting on the Mass which took place on Friday, June 15, in which the pope reflected on the day’s gospel reading from Matthew where Christ said that anyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery (Matt 5:27-32).
He began his homily by recounting how Jesus’ teachings elevated women to the same level as men.
“Jesus' doctrine about women changes history," he said. "Before Jesus the view about women was one thing but after Jesus they are another. Jesus dignifies women and puts them on the same level as men because he takes that first word of the Creator, both are ‘the image and likeness of God,’ both of them; not first the man and then a little lower down the woman, no, both are. And a man without a woman beside him - whether as a mother, as a sister, as a bride, as a working companion, as a friend - that man by himself is not the image of God.”
He went on to cite the media as treating women as objects of desire and using these images of her, which often show her without clothing, to sell products. Sadly, this isn’t going on in faraway places but right here in our own world, in our workplaces and communities. Women are being victimized by the “use and throw away” mentality where they aren’t even treated as persons," he said.
“This is a sin against God the Creator, rejecting women because without her we men cannot be the image and likeness of God. There is an anger and resentment against women, a nasty anger. Even without saying it... But how many times do young women have to sell themselves as disposable objects in order to get a job?”
The pope pointed out how many women are being exploited on the streets of Rome where men approach them like they would products at a market, not to greet them, but to inquire as to how much they cost. And then they “salve their consciences” by referred to them as prostitutes.
“All this happens here in Rome, it happens in every city, anonymous women, women - we can describe as ‘faceless’ because shame covers their faces, women who do not know how to laugh and many of them do not know the joy of breastfeeding their baby and the experience of being a mother. But, even in our everyday life, without going to those places, there is this ugly way of thinking, of rejecting women or seeing her as a ‘second class’ person. . . And by doing this or saying this, by entering into this way of thinking, we despise the image of God, who made man and woman together with his image and likeness.”
He added, “This Gospel reading helps us to think about the marketing of women, a trade, yes, trafficking, that exploitation which is visible but also that trade which we can’t see but is taking place out of sight. A woman is trampled underfoot precisely because she is a woman.”
He concluded by asking the congregation to remember that Jesus had many women followers, including His own mother, who helped Him in His ministry and provided support during His travels. And many of the women who followed Him, such as Mary Magdalene, were despised, marginalized, and cast aside, but He healed them all and, with great tenderness, restored their dignity.
“We need to reflect more deeply about this,” he said.
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