violette

violette
Heart's ease - an infusion was said to help mend a broken heart

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Anywoman

Two days ago we celebrated the feast of the Holy Innocents, those infants regarded by Herod as disposable and of no consequence - "collateral damage", as the military jargon has it. That night, before switching off my laptop, I noticed a new news story in my sidebar: the young woman who had been gang-raped in Delhi had died. I was not surprised - I had seen earlier stories of her deteriorating condition - but I was deeply saddened.

Her identity has been kept secret but her name could be Anywoman, because, sadly, her fate could so easily have been that of any woman. I've seen comments about the treatment of women in India, but unfortunately we in the UK have little to be smug about: far too many women here are subject to violence, exploitation, trafficking and abuse simply on account of their gender, all too often suffering in silence with the crimes being unreported.

And today, feast of the Holy Family, I pray for the young woman's grieving family, and wonder about the men who carried out the attack and the bus driver who facilitated it. They must have mothers, sisters, maybe wives, girlfriends, daughters even. Do they consider the women in their lives to be as worthless and sub-human as they clearly considered this young woman to be?

As so often, I find myself with more questions than answers, more that is unresolved than sorted. And, as always, there is only one place to take all the anger, pain and unanswered questions - to the wide-open Heart of Jesus. Here, in the pierced Heart, are united the superabundance of sin and the superabundance of love; here, too, is a God who scoops us up and grieves with and for us. No easy answers, no panaceas, but Someone who understands what it is to be wounded.

When I wrote about the pierced Heart for this year's Feast of the Sacred Heart I quoted from our Constitutions: The pierced Heart of Jesus opens our being to the depths of God and to the anguish of humankind. Here is where I bring this young woman, Anywoman, and the anguish of despised and violated womankind. And here, I hope and believe, is where love will triumph and there will be healing and redemption: as I wrote in June that is something to hold on to, when all seems bleak and hatred seems to be reigning supreme.

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