Triple discrimination broken

Published by rudy Date posted on March 27, 2011

In today’s Gospel incident, Christ broke through the triple discrimination tradition of His times: gender, race, and religion (Jn. 4: 5-42). Again, He insisted through His own example that when everything is said and done, LOVE is the one and only law of God for all mankind. In fact, love is precisely the very opposite of gender, racial, and religious discri-mination.

First of all, Jesus approached that woman-stranger at the well and asked for a drink. That was a taboo during those times. Moreover, the woman was a Samaritan, and Jesus was a Jew. Lastly but not least, they belonged to different religions!

Gender Discrimination. For the longest time, gender discrimination was the unquestioned tradition during Jesus’ lifetime. Men were not to approach, much less befriend women-strangers who were considered second-class, if not third-class “citizens.” Even among themselves, the Jews considered their wives as inferior to them, starting from their families, all the way to the community-at-large. Women had no active voice and decision-making power in the leadership of the home as well as the community. They were totally subservient to the men. Male authori-tarianism was the rule of the times.

We are now in the 21st century. Both civil law and the official Church teaching promulgate the equality of male and female in dignity and human rights. Gender discrimination is out. But in day-to-day life and actual reality, is gender discrimination really gone? Quiet down, be objective, and reflect. I am certain that you will come out with the conclusion that in many instances, gender discrimination still exists, not only in our Filipino culture, but in quite a number of Asian countries. The “macho culture” still prevails among many families, from sexual behavior to physical violence to other issues of male-female relationship. In such situations, on the other hand, we observe a growing number of women who are learning to “fight back” in different ways. If and when this happens, no less than a power-struggle comes about between husband and wife, and whoever is the stronger personality wins in the end. A win-lose situation, rather than a win-win situation. The latter is definitely God’s design for a man-woman relationship, and the meaning of mature love and justice that move toward peace.

Racial Discrimination. “The Samaritan woman said to him, ‘How can you, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?’ (For Jews use nothing in common with Samaritans).” (Jn. 4: 9). In other words, in those days, the Jews looked down on the Samaritans as an inferior race. But Jesus precisely broke away from that, and treated the Samaritan woman as an equal. Now, is such racial discrimination totally gone in today’s world? You tell me! True, we officially and publicly acknowledge the equality of races, and the number of inter-racial marriages is even increasing. But side by side with this are still the many incidences of racial discrimination, individually and collectively. What we mean by races here are the Whites, the Blacks, the Browns, and what-have-you. Twenty centuries have come and gone since the coming of Christ. But many Whites from the Western world sill look down on the Blacks of Africa and the Browns of Asia. This is particularly true from the experiences of many of our Overseas-Filipino-Workers (OFWs) who work for families and institutions abroad. Quite a bit of racial discrimination has been suffered by a good number of them. You can be sure that there are many other incidences of discrimination between races that exist today in different parts of the world.

Religious Discrimination. We may all agree in principle that there is only one Creator-God of the universe and all of mankind, and therefore, of all religions that teach love, justice, and peace. But again, in practice, human imperfection must be continually reformed. For instance, some of us Roman Catholics may tend to look down on members of the Aglipayan church or the Iglesia ni Cristo. Until recently, there were even religious leaders who thought and taught that the Catholic religion was the one and only true religion. On the other hand, some leaders of other religious denominations were teaching their followers that their religion was the one and only sure path to God’s kingdom.

In today’s Gospel event, Jesus is guiding us to the “living water” of life, which is Love Incarnate. This is the primal and ultimate meaning of human life. “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” (Lk. 10: 25-28; Mt. 22: 37-39; Mk. 12: 28-34). This breaks through all barriers of religious discrimination. With divine guidance, let us all actively work for a major breakthrough toward gender, racial, and religious equality through love, justice, and peace. Amen. –Ruben M. Tanseco, S.J. (The Philippine Star)

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