Last week, our parish action was to open our eyes to our personal attitudes, to admit to ourselves the biases we might hold towards others—so to see who it is that we might not treat as equal. Thanks to everyone who sponsored us (Fr M, Marusia & Aleksandra), our community members contributed funds to the Waterloo Women’s Crisis Services to help local women escape domestic abuse.
This week, let’s continue to focus specifically on the issue of domestic abuse, because in our journey towards ecological conversion we cannot ignore our interconnection with this suffering inflicted on people who are, oftentimes literally, our neighbours. Laudato Si explains that “concern for the environment needs to be joined to sincere love for our fellow human beings and an unwavering commitment to resolving the problems of society” (91). Knowing that we must first change before we can cause change, we look to how we actually might be sustaining domestic abuse, rather than preventing it.
What do you think of when you hear the word “home”? Home refers to safety, belonging, love. What happens when home is a place you dread? The goodness of home is not in a building, but in the relationship with others there. When home is not a refuge, typically it is a man who exploits the affection of his wife or partner, not only harming her in some way, either physically, emotionally or spiritually, but most often also blaming her for her own unhappiness. All too often, men isolate their partner from her close friends and make her believe she is dependent on him. For this reason, on average a woman tries 7 times before escaping an abusive home. It is extremely difficult and, for many, ends in death. While every situation is different, it is important to recognize general patterns so that we can be supportive and unjudgmental of anyone we fear may be in trouble. The network of neighbours offers online training for anyone interested in mitigating domestic abuse. [Network of Neighbours Intervention Training]
Significantly, the 6 km fundraiser was called “Walk to Break the Silence”. We must break the silence.
Possibly, as you read this bulletin, you may recognize that you are experiencing abuse or you may ask yourself if you might be causing unhappiness in your home. Please do not stay silent: talk to a friend, Fr Myroslaw, the Women’s Crisis Services, or anyone you trust. We need each other to find courage to take positive steps in new ways. Luke’s gospel this Sunday reminds us of how our fear of change can keep us from accepting freedom. First, the possessed man fears Christ’s reaction to him: “I beg you, don’t torture me!” Jesus not only does not torture the man, He sets him free, so that he no longer requires his fetters. The former raving madman is calm, rational, and happy. He can be “home” without fear. The villagers, however, were accustomed to the misery of their bound and chained neighbour. Rather than rejoicing, “all the people of the region of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them, because they were overcome with fear”. The people rejected Christ. He “got into the boat and left”. There we have it, we are free to respond to Christ (and change ourselves and the world) or we are free to reject Christ, because we fear the change He entails.
- This week, think about home. Who lives there?
- How do I relate to them?
- Do I look forward to being home? Why?
- Do I value what my partner does?
- Do I treat my partner with respect? Do I feel respected?
- When we disagree, is the same person always right?
- Am I kind? Am I compassionate? Am I treated with kindness and compassion?
- Beyond home:
- Do I show respect for women in society?
- Do I make sexist jokes or criticize women’s looks more than a man’s.
- This week let’s overcome our fear of moving beyond the status quo. Let’s say “yes” to Christ.