Never underestimate the courage and wisdom of women, pope says

IMAGE: CNS/Paul Haring

By Junno Arocho Esteves

CITY (CNS) — The humble counsel of courageous women should never be
disregarded but rather embraced as advice full of God’s divine wisdom, Pope
Francis said.

Women like the biblical
heroine Judith are
an example of trusting God amid sufferings and difficulties when it is easy to give
up hope and fall into despair, the pope said Jan. 25 during his weekly general

is my opinion, but women
are more courageous than men,” the pope said to applause.

As the pope
arrived for the audience, the sounds of classical music echoed throughout the
Paul VI audience hall as a youth orchestra from Bolivia played for the pope.

The Anglican choir of London’s Westminster Abbey
and former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger also were present and greeted
the pope at the end of the audience.

Francis focused his
audience talk on Judith, “a woman of great beauty and wisdom,” who
reproached the people of Israel for their lack of trust in God to deliver them from
foreign invaders.

were at the point of saying, ‘God has sold us,'” the pope said. “How many
times have we come to situations that test our limits where we are not even
able to trust in the Lord? It is an ugly temptation.”

Facing a
situation full of despair, the pope continued, the people gave God five days to
intervene. However, even in prayer they doubted that the Lord would help them.

days are given to God to intervene — this is the sin! Five days of waiting but
already expecting the end. In reality, no one among the people is capable of
hoping,” he said.

Francis said that in the
moment of despair, Judith confronts the people’s doubts with the “courageous
language” of faith and hope.

courage, he explained, is a reminder for Christians “to knock on the door
of God’s heart; he is a father, he can save us. This widow risks (everything),
even of making herself look like a fool in front of the others. But she is
courageous, she goes forward.”

must “never put conditions on God,” the pope said. Instead, they should allow “hope
to conquer our fears.”

trust God means entering into his plans without assuming anything” and to
believe that “he knows better than us,” the pope said.

The story
of Judith exemplifies the importance of the “courageous counsel” of
humble women, Pope Francis said. Their words, he added, contain “the
wisdom of God” and should never be “dismissed as ignorant.”

words of grandmothers — how many times do grandmothers know the right word to
say,” the pope said. “They give words of hope because they have the
experience of life, they have suffered so much, they trusted in God and the
Lord gave them this gift of giving us hopeful advice.”

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Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.

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