• Nnaemeka Ali, O.M.I - Black and Missionary

At different moments of the history of every religion and culture, women experienced one form of discrimination or the other. For example, it took centuries for women to vote or do certain types of work in almost every society on earth. In some places, they cannot yet drive or make their own decisions without the approval of men. They are also sexualized or body shamed.

And even today, in countries where human rights and equality appears to be a law, women keep on being body shamed and stigmatized. A quick look in our cities shows the number of men who can freely move about on shorts without shirts. Who feels disturbed by those sights?

Then consider the reaction of the public when a woman breastfeeds a baby in a public place. Many see it as an eyesore and would prefer she does it in a hidden location. What beats every imagination is why society cannot see such a sacred act as feeding a baby without sexualizing women’s bodies.

Furthermore, in religious circles, we curiously observe the social stigmatization of women in a significantly higher way. We term it being decent or respecting God. Though this social stigmatization of women comes in many different ways and forms in religious places, they are always present both in secular and religious circles. And more to the dressing code issue, in religious circles, it takes a ritual dimension.

In today’s Gospel, the author presents us Jesus’ encounter with the woman with a disordered menstrual cycle. For the Gospel authors, this woman is the model of all discriminated women and men, against all odds, met Jesus and touched him. Under normal circumstances, Jesus was to be soiled, then, should have withdrawn himself, and finally (ritually) cleanse himself at the end of the day. But instead of hiding under his new unclean status, he consoled the woman and went ahead to raise Jairus’ daughter. The author wants us to observe (I believe) that even after this encounter, Jesus was still clean; and capable of performing miracles.

Besides, one might think that this is an old story. Yet, in many religious circles—Christianity, Judaism, Islam, African/Native American Traditional Religion and Spirituality, etc.—women, in their menstrual period, are (or were) often considered unholy and unworthy to be present in particular celebrations. Who ignores that even in this 21st century, women cannot attend specific religious gatherings while in their period?

And even outside religious circles, we keep on stigmatizing them to emphasize our superiority and make them feel dirty and unwelcome. So today, the majority of women feel ashamed when they are on their period as society continues to treat such natural phenomena as taboo even to talk about.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus calls us to stop treating anyone as unworthy of God. By healing the menstruation problem of the woman, he challenges us to treat each person as a child of God and never according to their situation and circumstances. He also asks both women and every other marginalized people not to allow society to either body shame or stigmatize them.

And to us, he asks:

What circumstances of our neighbours are we using against them? Their body, gender, race or even sexual orientation?

Today Christ tells us, daughter, son, courage! What God created, no one should call unholy.

4 views0 comments
  • Nnaemeka Ali, O.M.I - Black and Missionary

When we hear about Jesus today, we wonder why it was hard for those around him to understand him. How was it possible that they doubted despite all we know about him? Do we wonder why after listening to his teaching, instead of giving glory to God, they opted for belittling him? "Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the...?", they asked. "Where did this man get all this? What kind of wisdom has been given him? "For those listening to him, we might wish to ask, are you blind? Can't you see that he is the Son of God?

However, there was no way they would have known. Today, we have both Mark and Matthews, Luke and John telling us, each in his own words and style, how he healed the sick after performing series of other miracles. In addition, we have access to files that were "classified" at their time.

Today, we hear Jesus reminding us of a fact we have almost all experienced in one moment or the other:

"A prophet is not without honour except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house."

Nevertheless, why was it necessary for the Gospel authors to tell us about the welcome reserved to Jesus? Was it the reply of Jesus that was important or that he was an ordinary man like any other person for them? Was it the listeners of Jesus asking questions about Christ's identity, or was it a question of Mark's community that eventually became that of Luke and by allusion a motive of teaching for the fourth Gospel author? (John 4:44-45).

Despite their lack of faith, he could cure a few sick people by laying his hands on them.

Today's Gospel, far from telling us how Jesus was treated in his hometown, gives us a clue on how Mark's community grappled with Jesus' identity; how they made their journey of faith, little by little discovering Jesus. The latter, despite their doubt, went a step further to heal some sick.

The first reading challenges us all the more. Jeremiah is being sent on a mission with clear instructions that his interlocutors will never listen to him. (Ezekiel 2:2-5). And without doubt, he accepts the challenge to be the bearer of the Good News. Jeremiah is each of us sent out to be the Good News in a world of individualism. And that Good News is Christ himself who, despite the threat of death lingering over his life, went forward to be the model of self-abandonment.

Today, we heard the questions of Mark's community. What are the questions of your community? Who is Christ for those struggling with health issues? What about those rejected by the community? Does Jesus love some more than the others? Are there some prophets that are not welcome in your community? Or are you a prophet afraid of not being welcomed? No Prophet is Welcome in his Hometown, and so what?

15 views0 comments
  • Nnaemeka Ali, O.M.I - Black and Missionary

Let's offer a libation of fire

For our hardships and traumas

On these structures with crosses

Echo some deep trembling voices

How about distempering?

To remind the entire world

Of the quietly whispering voices

Silently murmuring ages unheard

No, let's rewrite the history

True, in our terms as it occurred

Turning to our nukumat Mak kukumat

To hear their sacred ancestral voices

Let's protect all sacred places

Offering love for the hate of the past

Honouring our lost daughters and sons

Nomadic spirits who can never be hushed

Let's all be now the land protectors

The great and invincible nomads

Twice beaten but never conquered

First Nations, nomads, free and sacred


3 views0 comments