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For Peasant Women

For Peasant Women

I. Scripture Texts:

Genesis 3:6-7
“The woman saw how beautiful the tree was and how good its fruit would be to eat, and she thought how wonderful it would be to become wise. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, and he also ate it.”

Genesis 3:17
“And God said to the man, “You listened to your wife and ate the fruit which I told you not to eat. Because of what you have done, the ground will be under a curse. You will have to work hard all your life to make it produce enough food for you.”

II. Reflection
If you have before you an apple, a ripe mango, or a fragrant durian, would you not want to eat it? If the fruit promised contentment and knowledge, would you rather be hungry and ignorant? Why did God place before them a fruit that was so good and denied them to taste it? Eve, as the story goes, was the first human to disobey God; the first to challenge patriarchy. In this account, Eve chose between obedience and knowledge, between self-denial and fulfillment. This myth seeks to blame women for all the sufferings of humanity but the spirit of Eve in every woman must also be praised for desiring to experience life in its fullness.

In the text, when God pronounced judgment on Eve, God afflicted all women with pain in childbirth and domination from their husbands. Then God cursed the soil so that men will labor before they can benefit from the land. But is this not a curse for both women and men? Women have shed blood, sweat and tears in the labor for the land. Today, our struggle as women widens and deepens as we confront those who deny the value of our labor, the value of our common humanity with men, the equality of all people to opportunity and dignity, and our right to eat from the tree of life. Let us continue to seek the day when our hunger will no longer be viewed as temptation but will be understood as a vision of knowledge and fulfillment for all.

III. The Prayer
O God, we ask for forgiveness, for the times we have allowed women not to be counted.
In the escape from Egypt where 600,000 men were counted but women were not (Exodus 12:37),
In Jesus’ feeding of the 5,000 where only men were counted and the women were not (Matthew 14:21).
For allowing women’s presence and labor to be denied, even as they toil in farms, as they contribute to the life and survival of the people and the land, forgive us, O God.
O God, we ask for courage, that we may stand firm against those who will deny us our right to our land. May we be like the daughters of Zelophehad: Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah (Numbers 27); and the women of the Bontoc and Kalinga Tribes who defended their land and prevailed against those who threatened to deprive them of land, and life itself.
May we speak for justice, even when we hurt and may be hurt by those who are rich and powerful. May we never tire of working towards a time when “your kingdom comes on earth as it is in heaven.”
O God, we ask for mercy, so that we will no longer hear the cries of our youth and children as they hunger and thirst. May the fruit of our womb be filled with the fruit of the land so that mothers will no longer know the pain of holding their dying children in their arms.(Lamentations 2: 11-12)
May we experience your provision and guidance as we seek to feed our families and communities. Not just with what will fill the stomach, but with everything that will provide wholeness to every human being.
O God, we ask for wisdom, that all women and all people may be able to express and manifest the goodness that you intended when you conceived the whole of creation. As we imitate Eve’s hunger for wisdom, may it bring not death, but life. As we feel Eve’s joy in eating the fruit of the land, may we remember all those with whom we need to share all these with.
May our hunger not be a temptation that will bring pain and death. May our hunger lead us into a vision that will bring forth genuine peace, justice, beauty and fullness for all. Amen

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1 thought on “For Peasant Women”

  1. Thank you for another rare gem of biblical theological reflection about women, and for spotting out again another masculine perpetration of injustice upon women. Yes, I agree: women are not the original source of disobedience to the divine law, and if the myth is to stand as it is, you are quite right in saying that it is not an act of disobedience but an act of daring to realize the potentialities of women. I am no Bible scholar, but I agree that it was most probably a man—a man deeply steeped in the culture of male machismo of the time—who wrote the Genesis story. I think, however, that the one who wrote it, though he placed the blame on Eve, was really using Eve as a symbol for the entire human race in its yearning to be liberated from all restraints, to declare its freedom from God, and not as a symbol that women is the source of radical disobedience to God. But, of course, he was a child of his culture that wishes to absolve men from their weakness, failures, and acts of rebellion against God, thus, he made Eve the first rebel against God.

    I think Eve in the myth, symbolizes not women as such, but the human race in general. I think, as I recall, this is what Erich Fromm, in one of his books said about the Fall—that it is not so much a fall downwards, but a fall upwards, the consequences of which is the emergence of culture. Fromm was writing as a psychologist and sociologist. But it shows profound insight into the Genesis myth of the Fall. Such a daring to actualize one’s latent potentialities should not be considered as sin as such—it is a virtue to dare express one’s possibilities. The problem is once such a human daring is launched, it is impossible to know where it ends, and the daring goes on until it transmogrifies itself into hubris. This theme is powerfully explored by the Greek dramatists as in Antigone and Oedipus Rex. This sense of hubris is given radical expression in Nietszche’s declaration that, “If there is God, how is it possible that I am not He!” And, of course, examples in history abound—Alexander the Great, Stalin, Hitler, Marcos—etc.

    Your counsel to women is admirable: they are to assume the spirit of Eve of desiring to do the more excellent way, to chose fulfillment rather than denial, creativity rather than dullness, love instead of hate, and life instead of death. Yes, there is so much that has been driven underground in women because the menfolk systematically blocked their possibilities, genius and passion for doing the more excellent way.

    Levi V. Oracion
    July 16, 2013

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