Today’s Scriptures speak of the dignity and importance of women in the life of the world and of the Church. The first reading, of course, speaks of the creation of the first woman. She is not named, but is referred to as “woman” because “out of “her man’ this one has been taken.” The story is familiar: the man is put into a deep sleep and one of his ribs is taken and closed up with flesh. From this rib bone, the woman is fashioned. That the woman was formed from part of the man indicates the close partnership that exists between them: they are of one and the same flesh, created by one and the same God. This act of creation also creates a very important partnership: men and women are meant to be together, and their union is a sacramental sign of the life, breath, love and creating power of God.
The second woman we meet is the Syrophoenician woman in today’s Gospel. The Gospels have a male-centric view that tends to say little about women, but this woman makes an impression. Her faith that Jesus can heal her daughter, and her persistence that he would hear her prayer, give us a model for our spiritual lives. For us disciples, a strong faith in Christ means never questioning his ability to act for our good, and never letting anything – not even the technicalities of a perceived mission – get in the way of acting on that faith. We too are called to steadfast faith, and persistent prayer.
It is only with the creation of the woman that the creation of the world and all that is in it is complete. The woman completes God the Creator’s vision for the world, and now everything and everyone is in place for the praise and glory of God. Looking at the women in today’s Liturgy of the Word, we should give praise for the completeness of God’s creating power, and renew our faith and the persistence of our life of prayer.