I am so excited I don’t even know how to begin writing this post. An alternative opening line was, Roman Catholics are not a homogenous bunch. They both speak to recent experiences involving the church that have been on my mind.
Yesterday a story broke after Pope Francis in “open” discussions with a group of Latin American clerics told of a “gay lobby” within the Vatican. Now I’m not sure what the group is advocating for but there is something wildly interesting about the disclosure given that it is the first that I have heard of the Vatican having support for gay issues. Honestly the news was immediately comforting.
Mass on Sunday was very good. The Entrance hymn was Wake up My People. The lines go “wake up my people, wake up give a shout, wake up my people, Know what life’s about, And wake up to the needs of all the one’s who suffer sorrow, Wake up promise now to do your best to change tomorrow…” Most of the hymns sung during mass were among my favorites and I enjoyed the service.
Then came the Readings and Fr. Brereton’s homily. Both readings spoke of miracles performed by Jesus. The First was from 1 Kings (17:17-24): Elijah cries out to the Lord to bring life back into the son of a widow, which he does.
The Second Reading was from St Luke (7:11-17). Again, a resurrection is performed, this time by Jesus. It was again the son of a widow. The point was made by Father Brereton that in the patriarchal biblical times a woman without a man in her household was vulnerable and it was not a desirable situation. Gender politics creep in as we see that most resurrections if not all are of men, reinforcing the importance of male life over female life.
This was an aside, despite its great significance. What that Second Reading also said was that when the Lord saw the grieving mother he felt sorry for her. He said “Do not cry.” To quote the scripture he then “went and put his hand on the bier and the bearers stood still and he said “Young man I tell you to get up.” And the dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him to his mother” The reading closes off with the lines “Everyone was filled with awe and praised God saying, “A great prophet has appeared among us; God has visited his people.” And this opinion of him spread throughout Judea and all over the countryside.”
Anticipating what Father was heading to proved an error. Here I thought we’d be hearing of the miracles performed by Jesus with a call for restored faith in the Shepherd who by the power of God as his Son could return life to the dead, but no. Father said that in Jewish religion it is taboo to touch a dead body so that when Jesus laid his hands on the bier, he was in fact being a rebel as his actions went against the teachings of the dominant Jewish culture.
Father also talked about a series of fora that the church had been hosting where discussions were held on thorny issues like gay rights and abortion. He said it went against the teachings of his mother who always told him “when you see too too in the road don’t touch it” lest you get too too on you too. He said, though, sometimes we have to touch those messy things that might stink us up. He elaborated on this point in defending Archbishop Harris who it seemed got into a pickle after his comments on “emailgate” during a Corpus Christi Service.
The church he said must comment on issues that are political marking a distinction between those and issues of party politics. I have noticed in recent years and around elections priests veer into the political albeit within their ascribed guidelines: the church being concerned with humanity and the societies they exist in.
So these are interesting times. I may have lost my point, no stranger to that, but I liked the message of the homily last Sunday and the honesty of Pope Francis.