In honor of International Women’s Day on March 8th, I wanted to promote Buzzfeed’s article Feminism in Faith: Four Women Who Are Revolutionizing Organized Religion.
Sister Elizabeth Johnson, CSJ
The article highlights four women working within their faith community to bring about change:
Sara Hurwitz: the first publicly ordained Orthodox Jewish Rabba
Kate Kelly: an attorney getting the issue of ordination of Mormon women in the public eye
Elizabeth Johnson: a Catholic feminist theologian, nun and professor working for female ordination
Zainah Anwar: a Muslim journalist and advocate working to reinterpret the Qur’an’s verses that lead to taking multiple wives and beating wives
The article asks:
Why bother? Why fight? If you’re an educated feminist who was born into such a religion, why not convert to another that doesn’t relegate women to a second-class status? For each of these women, the answer relates to not only her devotion to her own faith, but to her community. This is no small thing: By a rough estimation, there are nearly a billion and a half women on Earth who are Orthodox Jewish, Mormon, Catholic, or Muslim.
Take a moment today to learn more about these women who are working for equality in their faith communities.
Who would you add to the list?
The fourth gospel begins in God time and enters history only in verse 6, when “a man named John was sent from God…to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him” (1.6-7). Jesus has no birth story and no parents at the beginning of this gospel. Instead he has a dedicated public relations man who testifies someone greater is coming.
John the Baptist apparently preaches in such a compelling way that many mistake him for the promised messiah, but he insists no. Someone else is coming who will baptize with the Spirit. Artfully the fourth gospel uses the Baptist to build up anticipation. The Baptist is the point man. Artists often draw him pointing.
The Baptist witnesses that indeed Wisdom, God’s partner in creation, has found a dwelling in Israel. The Word has taken flesh to reveal God among us. Not until verse 29, where Sunday’s gospel begins, does the Baptist point out Jesus and identify him as the someone.
In court, witnessing and testifying require swearing to tell the whole truth about events one has observed or participated in. Testimony is also a Christian practice in which one talks about the power of God in one’s life.
Many people who grew up Catholic no longer claim their faith. The continuing flow of sexual abuse cases causes deep distrust of leaders who don’t meet their promise of zero tolerance. The whole Church suffers.
We Christians are Jesus’ witnesses today. As our courts work to find the whole truth, we in the pews must give witness to all God is doing in our lives. We must be church to one another and Christians others can believe in.
What witness do you give?
In a dream, an angel told Joseph, “Joseph, son of David, have no fear about taking Mary as your wife. It is by the Holy Spirit that she has conceived this child. She is to have a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
When Joseph finds Mary pregnant with a child not his own, he makes a compassionate judgment to divorce her quietly. He can’t stop thinking about her and the gospel tells us Joseph sleeps on his decision. Joseph opens his unconscious self to nourishing rest; he opens himself to the nonrational, spiritual world and to the infinite, whole picture he seeks. He entrusts himself to Holy Mystery in going to sleep.
The angel in Joseph’s dream tells him:
- Not to fear
- The Spirit of God has conceived this child in his fiancé.
- Mary will have a son
- Joseph is to name and claim the child as his own.
The name reveals the child’s mission. The name Jesus means he saves.
How is sleeping on a decision an act of prayer?
When John the Baptist heard in prison about the works Christ did, he sent a message by his disciples to ask, “Tell us, are you the one to come?”
In his ministry Jesus is not hacking dead branches off the family tree of Israel nor winnowing hypocrites from among repentant sinners as John expected the messiah would. Jesus is so different from the axe-wielding, chaff-winnowing judge that John expected that John has to send messengers to ask Jesus, “Are you the one who is to come, or do we look for another?”
Where do your expectations of God stand on a continuum between winnowing judge and compassionate healer?
John the Baptist speaks about Jesus, saying, “I baptize with water for the sake of reform, but the one who will follow me is more powerful than I. I am not even fit to carry his sandals. He will baptize you in the Holy Spirit and fire.”
Fierce and holy like the prophet Elijah, John the Baptist is a lone voice in the wilderness, calling people to repent and prepare for one who will baptize them in Spirit and fire. The Baptist says the one for whom he prepares will carry a winnowing fan. This is the shovel people used in John’s time to throw grain in the air and let the wind separate the wheat from the chaff.
What points in your life have been days of judgment—of winnowing seed from chaff?