8 March 2002
Colours - Purple and Green
justice and dignity
The colours were chosen by the suffragettes of Britain
In 1928 the
first Australian IWD gathering took place at the Domain
in Sydney. Today, we are celebrating the 74th anniversary
of that event.
The first ever
IWD was established at a meeting of the Socialist International
in Copenhagen to promote and protect the equal rights
of women. These were stirring days of social upheaval
and revolution. Soon after this, the first world war
would break out and the communist revolution in Russia
would change the face of Europe, indeed the world. In
1975 the IWD was officially recognised by the United
Nations. The UN has since been a lead agency in promoting
the status of women around the world. We stand today,
in 2002, in a proud tradition of womens struggle
for social, economic and political equality. We stand
on the shoulders of our mothers and grandmothers who
have gone before us.
Today is a day
to stop and celebrate this struggle, mindful that it
is not over and there are many miles to go before women
achieve real equality.
(Wisdom/Sophia) is the breath of Gods power
and a stream of pure glory of the Almighty.
of our reflection today is Wisdom/Sophia - a female figuration
in the Hebrew
Bible who gives expression to Gods saving presence in
the world. It is appropriate that we focus on this revealed
dimension of the Divine on this day.
In recent times a
great deal of biblical scholarship has focused on a new evaluation
of the importance of the Wisdom/Sophia biblical tradition in
the Old and New Testaments. Much of this work has made the
connection between Sophia in the Old Testament and Jesus in
the New Testament.
feminine Greek word for Wisdom) highlights feminine aspects
of God which
encompass Gods care for the Earth - the household of
all living creatures. Sophia does not live on the holy mountain
but, rather, Sophia lives in the household and raises her voice
in public spaces bringing about peace, justice and right relationships.
This Divine imaging captures for us something of the saving
presence of God in the world - it is one aspect of God that
informs a spirituality for social action.
short, biblical wisdom/Wisdom spirituality is a spirituality
of roads and journeys, public places and open borders, nourishment
and celebration. It seeks for sustenance in the struggles
for justice and cultivates creation and life in fullness.
Schlusser Fiorenza, Wisdom Ways, 2001, p.28)
Our use of
the phrase Sophias
transformative dream for all creation is a way of describing
working to bring Gods kingdom into reality.
Let us now listen
to the revealed Word and take time to allow this description
of Wisdom/Sophia to permeate our hearts and minds (Wisdom 7:
22 - 8:1).
Wisdom, the fashioner of all things, taught me.
There is in her is a spirit intelligent, holy, unique, manifold, subtle,
mobile, clear, unpolluted, certain, invulnerable, loving the good, keen,
irresistible, beneficent, kindly, firm, secure, tranquil, all-powerful, all-seeing,
and penetrating through all spirits, though they be intelligent, pure and
altogether very subtle.
For Wisdom is more mobile than any motion, and she penetrates and pervades
all things by reason of her purity.
For she is the breath of the power of God and a pure emanation of the glory
of the God;
For she is the reflection of eternal light, the spotless mirror of the working
of God, the image of Gods goodness.
Although she is but one, she can make all things and while remaining in herself
she renews all things.
In every generation she passes into holy souls and
makes them her friends and prophets.
For God loves nothing so much as the person who lives with Wisdom.
She is more beautiful than the sun and surpasses every constellation of the
Compared to light, she is found to be superior for it is succeeded by the
but against Wisdom, evil does not prevail.
She reaches mightily from one end of the earth to the other and she orders
all things well.
reflection time - music background)
In this reading we
learn that Wisdom/Sophia overcomes evil - that evil does not
prevail against her. When we think of the evil of sexism and
discrimination against women, we note that this takes shape
in our world in many ways:
exploitation in the workplace - womens work underpaid
- The feminisation
of poverty - more women than men carry the burden of poverty
in our world
in political and economic life - even total exclusion in
- Violence against
women - rape in war - torture - domestic violence
- Stereotyping of
women - sexual objects in advertising - temptress - negative
- Genital mutilation
- Murder of girl
babies in some societies
- Trafficking of
women and children for sex
and hatred of lesbian women.
The way of Wisdom/Sophia
does not tolerate such evil. She stands against evil and is
not overcome. She is there accompanying women on the journey
through the wilderness and darkness of struggle to justice
journeyed through an unpopulated wilderness
and pitched their tent in inaccessible places.
They stood firm against their enemies, fought off their foes.
On you (Wisdom/Sophia) they called when they were thirsty,
and from the rocky cliff water was given them,
from hard stone their thirst was quenched.
We also learn that
from generation to generation she passes into holy souls and
makes them her friends and prophets.
Some of those holy
souls and prophets are represented here in this circle of reflection:
- Mother Jones
- Aung San Suu Kyi
- Eleanor Roosevelt
- Mum Shirl
- Rigoberta Merchu
- The Un-named Woman
- representing Spirit women who go unnoticed and unrecognised
but for whom Sophia has passed into and made holy souls and
I would now invite
you to call into this circle of reflection the wisdom spirit
of any woman who comes to mind, at anytime in herstory, who
you believe was a friend and prophet, infused with Wisdom/Sophia
and who was committed to the struggle against the evils of
sexism, discrimination and other forms of injustice.
You may like
to take some time to think about someone and then to call her
with us in the ongoing struggle to bring about the realisation
of Wisdom/Sophias transformative dream for all creation.
into this circle _______________________ who _________________________
and I pray _____________________________________________________________
Let us now draw our
reflection to an end by praying together:
fashioner of all things -
Teach us your ways
and fill us with the spirit that is within you -
free from anxiety.
us the courage to make our voices
heard in the streets
calling for peace, justice and right relating.
Instil in us a passion for life
and an utter determination
to stand against
all that would destroy the fabric of life we have inherited.
Make us, like you, a breath of the power of God
a reflection of eternal light.
and an image of Divine Goodness
in this broken and vulnerable world.
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