Saturday, June 14, 2014
Be Not Afraid
This is, in his own handwriting, Saint John Paul II's famous charge, echoing Christ's words to us: Be Not Afraid! I think it's especially appropriate given the title of my last post, "What's Your Greatest Fear?" God smack, anyone?
I think of Saint John Paul II every day. He was such a huge figure in my life. I loved him so much and I bless the day I actually encountered him in person -- it's something I always treasured.
And today, in reading a column by Pia de Solleni, JP2 on the New Feminism, I was struck by her discussion of "being vs. doing" as the basis for feminism. This is the crux, I think, of the whole debate over the role of women in the Church -- what we are allowed to DO versus what we are called to BE. Women's roles are not what define us -- no matter what those roles are. The priesthood isn't a job with an educational and vocational path to entry, duties and responsibilities, and a path to preferment and promotion. If it were, then people who believe that it's unfair that women are not priests would be right. Instead, the priesthood is not something that some men DO as a job, it's something they ARE. Priests are sign of contradiction,
to use another phrase of Saint John Paul II. They are in the world but not of it. It's a lonely and difficult life, I think, and not one I'd choose, even if I could. But I am glad that we have priests to be our signs of contradiction.
Back to doing vs. being -- maybe the whole women as priests thing gets back to Martha and Mary. In the story, Jesus comes to visit the family of Lazarus, Martha, and Mary. Imagine, a whole group of tired, dusty, hungry men -- at least thirteen of them and probably many more -- one of whom just happens to be the Son of God -- show up on your doorstep. There are no phones, email, or even postcards, so you had no idea they were coming. Maybe for dinner tonight, you were just planning on reheating last night's spaghetti in the microwave or allowing everyone to eat peanut butter and jelly (oh, that's my house), but now you have to pull a decent meal out of your hat. Hospitality in this culture was one of the most important things, AND YOU ARE GOING TO FAIL. No wonder Martha was pissed off that her sister, Mary, WHO SHOULD BE HELPING HER GET DINNER READY, was just sitting around at Jesus's feet listening to the words that were falling like pearls from his mouth (the same mouth that would be eating cold spaghetti or PB&J on wheat if Mary didn't get her butt in gear). No wonder she complained.
Jesus's answer has always kind of angered me -- because I'm a Martha too, and feel like my DOING is what defines my WORTH. Rather than telling Mary to get off her ass and help her sister, Jesus tells Martha that Mary has chosen the better part and that she won't be deprived of it.
The Gospel of Luke says:
Jesus Visits Martha and Mary
38 Now as they went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. 39 She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. 40 But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; 42 there is need of only one thing.[a] Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”
If I were Martha, I would be angry and troubled by this. Jesus didn't stick up for me -- he didn't take my part. In fact, he gently chided me. And, in fact, he IS chiding me. Now. "Colleen, Colleen, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing."
That thing is BEING, not doing. BEING in the presence of the Lord, all day, every day. Not whether the laundry is done. Not whether the to-do list is finished. Not whether my husband is happy. Not whether the children are growing up decent. No. Just being in the presence of the Lord. All else follows. It's the better part.
How did I get here from women priests and feminism? LOL. #rambling, #uptoolate