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 January 25 during his weekly general
“This 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 Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger also were present and greeted
the pope at the end of the audience.
Pope 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.
“They 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.
“Five 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.
Pope Francis said that in the moment of despair, Judith confronts the
people’s doubts with the “courageous language” of faith and hope.
Her 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.”
Christians must “never put conditions on God,” the pope said. Instead, they should allow “hope to conquer our fears.”
“To 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.”
“The 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.”