Note: This article is a reflection on the first reading from the Book of Proverbs.

Recently a fashion show with lots of flare for entertainment was dubbed as the ‘Naked Truth.” (There’s a lot of nakedness, but what kind of truth, that’s begging the question.)

In one scene, a known Matinee idol was seen dragging a dishevelled woman with a leash around her neck! Instantly, it went viral, receiving deserved flack of great proportion.

The management, I believe, has a lot of responsibility to the moral perception of the viewing public. There is such thing as quality in human thinking and in this case also includes our perception. This kind of show disrupts and undermine people’s capacity for critical thinking.

What is our modern concept of women? Based from an interesting comparison, an ancient description of a woman’s vocation is described elegantly in this Book of Proverbs. We find in this excerpt ideas very similar to those that are being stressed now. The first is that a woman’s productivity and significance is not simply to be confined to the home, but that she should be adequately treated in whatever work or profession she chooses.

Secondly, a woman is not to be valued merely on a physical level, or in a purely sexual way. Rather, she should be regarded for everything she is, and can be, as a uniquely human and feminine person. There are still greater number of nations or cultural attitude towards women’s status as secondary (e.g.Islamic thinking on this regard).

The great value of the woman in the home and her productivity there, is not overlooked as is evident from the lines, “She obtains wool and flax and works with loving hands. She puts her hands to the distaff, and her fingers ply the spindle.” Yet… She reaches out her hands to the poor, and extends her arms to the needy. This last line shows her socialconcern outside the needs of her house. Today a woman steps out of the house beyond her domestic skills. A woman’s commercial significance is also considered but ethical standards must be the point of reference for its full significance. The same is true in the field of politics. Understanding this, then, we have a striking commentary on a woman’s worth as a total person. Her choice of a commitment to her home and family is a most honourable one, but she need not be limited to that. Nor is she mainly judged on her physical appeal. The psalmist dismisses the value of physical attractiveness alone by saying, “Charm is deceptive and beauty fleeting.” The far more beautiful aspect of a woman is her inner core of a richly creative feminine personality. She is seen as a working mother, care giver, nourisher and giver of life. The role of women in the bible is unmistakable – disciple, companion, steward, listener and devoted worker, like Martha and Mary, who chose the better part.

We must give each woman freedom and the opportunity to develop all her creative potential. This, as the quote suggests, a woman can rightly display her abilities, so that “her works may praise her.” This should be true not only in the home, but when appropriate, in the centers of commerce, law, politics, the sciences, and travel as well. As we read again, “her value is far beyond pearls.” Who can stand more brilliantly for the full potential of a woman in Christian tradition, than Mary herself, full of grace and truth.

About Fr. EJ and his other reflections.