Today is most of all the golden day for Mothers. It is the Noche Buena of Holy Mary who gave up whatever else she wanted to do and went against public opinion and policy to give birth to our Hope and Savior, Jesus. She knew what she was doing, although stunned by the power of it, and willingly gave herself up to be the handmaiden of God. She spoke poetry as she agreed to take on the task. She bowed down with no complaint in the lowliest of stables, in unclean conditions and an unfriendly environment, to push out that Holy Child and hold Him to her breast. She fed Him and kept Him alive. She showed courage as she was forced to flee with God in her arms to escape a rabid Herod. She put her child first, as most mother’s do. She trusted her faith, strong as Abrahams, and watched Her son become the God He was, as painful as it may have been to give Him over to his short ministry. She was the first to walk beside Him as He carried his cross and then hung on it. This was our mother role model, Holy Mary, Mother of God. Blessed be Mary.
Sunday night I watched an interesting documentary on faith - "In the Name of God." I was miffed that there was only one woman included in the religious leaders concept and she was a Hindu woman in white gowns who hugs. Everyone else was male. Is religious leadership only valuable if it comes from men? Men carry on, dominate, direct so many faiths. Women are the underskirts or the evil Eves who need to be hidden and silenced just by being who we are. Religion seems almost a macho field, like football games. And yet women make up the majority of congregations and saints. Finally in the last decade, some Christian and Jewish faiths have invited the female soul into the holiest of holies to allow them to serve God in a special capacity, as I do. But many men are still in denial of this. They don’t want the female voice. They refuse to share the Eucharist when blessed by woman’s hands. Yet we, the mothers of men, can change their diapers and nurse them with our breasts but are not worthy to be church leaders. Women certainly number among the most prestigious saints, and of course Jesus would not have been born without a humble Mary.
At a time when the hierarchy of the church has lost its trust and respect because men who were ordained to the priesthood hid and hide under its cover of holiness, costume and power to do evil things; at a time when men suggest that we must love everyone Jesus-style, in agape love that loves our enemies and those who seek to do us harm, while most of them huddle only with neighbors who are just like them and follow only their rules - to be safe; at a time when our youth are as distracted as an octopus with ten legs and are becoming permanent delinquents because they have no fathers or heros to trust and mothers must take to the streets to support them,(gangs and crime look easy); at a time when corruption of politicians and the egos of entertainers are stretching the strings of correctness to incorrigible ends, we depend on wise, honest women, mothers, grandmothers. What better than to faint into the embrace of a mom? Who better understands? Yet now clergy and teachers and those who work with our children can no longer give a hug of caring, of encouragement, of reward. It is perceived as something seductive and criminal, because at times it has been. An innocent hug. A touch. A moment of saying I care about you and understand your pain. We can’t do that anymore without being sued. What a world. What a horrible world we have developed outside God’s simple creation in Eden.
Image: The Nativity, by Caravaggio, 1609.
And worse, it’s the age when one atheist or agnostic can so disrupt courtly minds or hire such convincing lawyers that all the foundations of Christmas or other religious celebrations that bring joy to the majority have to be shut down. Something is wrong here. How can traditions held for two to three thousand years all of a sudden be outlawed? Because someone doesn't like it? How can the marble crib in the basement of a church in Bethlehem be forgotten? If you’ve touched it, you never forget the magnitude of what happened in that manger on a bed of straw. I’m sure God is watching and his spirit is in pain.
We are poor fighters without guns and weapons. We prefer the easy way out. We are so busy selling God, we forget to look at our own lives. We claim to not be racist, yet our churches speak loudly of racism since so many of them are still all white or all black. We select who is allowed to kneel at our altars. Didn’t Jesus attend to the needs of all men and women, even the Samaritans? Our pretentious words get out of hand. We are His. He is Ours. But really, who knows who will be chosen? Won't we all? Is every sin forgiven? Our greed goes over the top. Our eyes see the glory of ourselves, not the Lord. We fail to brandish swords of truth, of right and wrong, of humility. We are slack on tolerance, acceptance, forgiving, love, and patience.
We need to look again at the four gospels to see who God’s only Son was and what His words (not some interpretation of them) actually said. Are you attuned to how He thought, responded, reacted, loved? Are you familiar with how He got here, what Scripture foretold? I follow this God. He is who I want to walk with and in whom I have faith. I’ve touched his crib, his rock of agony at Golgotha, the soil of his cross, his empty tomb. I feel him everywhere I turn and in everyone I meet. I continually long for tomorrow when I soar off of this horizon to touch his hand. God bless you all.
Photo: A silver star marks the spot believed to be the spot where Jesus was born, beneath the altar in the Grotto of the Nativity in Bethlehem.