As part of my work for Franciscans International, I created an Advent Reflection that uses the stories of Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba, the four women mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew, to reflect on contemporary human rights issues that disproportionately affect women.
“Advent is a season of joyful anticipation. Traditionally, we light four candles, one for each week spent waiting for the coming celebration of Christmas. The Gospel of Matthew mentions four women, in addition to Mary of Nazareth, in the genealogy of Jesus. Paradoxically, the Gospel writer has chosen to include women whose stories might cast them in a suspicious light. Foreigners, prostitutes, and widows, these women are hardly the stately matriarchs, such as Sarah and Rebekah, mentioned elsewhere in Scripture .
Traditional readings have focused on the “irregularities” of their situations; however, such literal readings have been viewed through a patriarchal lens and run the risk of missing out on the core message of the Gospels. Instead, we can view the stories of Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba from a more critical perspective. Having understood the oppression and injustice women have traditionally experienced, we can see and appreciate their stories in a new light.
Like many women in Scripture, countless women are the victims of oppression and injustice today. Human rights violations carry gendered ramifications that disproportionately affect women all over the world. Re ecting on the stories of Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba in light of contemporary human rights issues reveal the continued relevance of the Gospel message.
In a world of seemingly endless darkness, their stories offer us a glimpse of the Hope and Justice that is to come.”
Please take a look below. The English PDF is available here.