Let us give the floor to one of the evangelists: “Jesus was teaching in a synagogue on the Sabbath. There was a woman there who, for eighteen years, had a spirit that made her sick. She was hunched over and unable to straighten up. Seeing her, Jesus addressed her and said: ‘Woman, you are free from your illness’. Jesus laid his hands on her and immediately the woman straightened up and began to praise God” (Luke 13:10-13). Lucas is the only one who reports this episode of the bent woman . A bent woman who, in some way, represents the condition of women in the context of the time, bent by the weight of a patriarchal, prejudiced and strongly marginalized society. Also hampered by the feeling of guilt and sin in the face of intolerant religious law and public opinion, both easily internalized.
Once again, Jesus is not afraid to break with the rigid Jewish legislation – “the Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath” – and with the touch of his hands he puts the woman back on her feet, once again able to get up. and walk on your own two feet. Anonymous woman, to whom so many other people can be added in the same conditions, but who receive the opportunity to straighten their own bodies, raise their heads, look ahead, and equally straighten their lives in alternative directions. And once again, religion is used as a kind of support, a springboard, a platform so that each and every human being can resume their existence, renewed by faith and hope in God.
The text applies to today like the precision of a glove. There are many bent women in contemporary society. Subjugated by patriarchalism and machismo, which perversely unfold in domestic violence, one of the most common, because it is protected and made impossible, due to the inviolability of the house/home/family. But they are also subjugated by double working hours and/or lower wages than men, when performing absolutely identical tasks. And they are also subjugated by the threat of their partners (be they boyfriends, fiancés, husbands or lovers) when they risk a “no” in the face of an unsuccessful relationship. This is to not even address, in this small space, the harmful consequences of fear, shame, defamation and economic dependence – a weight that very often falls on women, hindering and paralyzing them, making new relationships impossible for them.
It is needless to add that the Covida-19 pandemic, by causing countless romantic relationships to deteriorate due to daily and compulsory social isolation due to the obligation of social isolation, has often worsened the situation of many women. They found themselves forced into close proximity 24 hours a day with someone who, even though he was their partner (or precisely because he was one), believed he had the right to dispose of their body and their life. It is enough to note the increase in family violence and femicides not only during the contamination and deaths, but also in the period that followed, until the present day. Even this time, women were hunched over, with minimal possibilities of saying a resounding “no”.
The metaphor of the hunched woman , however, could extend to “our common home”, in Pope Francis’ expression. Mother Earth, in current times, effectively represents a living organism, without a doubt, but bent. Climate change is bearing down on it with increasingly devastating violence and speed. The ever more irregular and unexpected alternation of cold and heat taken to extremes reveals an agitated and feverish organism, which is moving at accelerated pace towards global warming so often predicted and denounced. Successive hurricanes, cyclones, droughts and floods, among other catastrophes, mean that the Earth, a mother that must be a source of life and care for its continuity, becomes a place of escape and death. Our planet, in fact, cannot support the crazy and devilish rhythm of the political and economic model imposed by the richest and most powerful slice of humanity.
Profit and capital accumulation cannot continue to be the drivers of the relationship between Nature, on the one hand, and Humanity, on the other. Other types of relationships are possible and positive, as numerous experiences around the globe teach us. More than exploring the last possibilities of the soil, subsoil, water, air and forests and animals, in addition to the human workforce, it is urgent to cultivate coexistence and care for things and the different forms of life, the biodiversity. The Earth is curved! What is the role of faith in general, and of each religion in particular, in contributing to the cure of this illness, giving back to the planet the right and duty to be a mother?
Father Alfredo J. Gonçalves, cs, vice-president of the SPM – São Paulo, 10/31/2023