I am still in awe at the stubbornness of the women who are in the LCWR (see here and here ). As many Catholics know, they have been subject to oversight by the Vatican because they promote beliefs and spirituality that are not congruent with Catholic faith and spirituality. In their defense they argue that the men don’t get them and they’ve been denied due process, etc., etc. Not once in everything I have read do they say the one thing, the one thing that would solve this whole dilemma. What is that one thing you ask?- Jesus is Lord. Truly this is what the fight is really about.
The first reading today is helpful. Peter says: “Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice, and proclaimed: “Let the whole house of Israel know for certain
that God has made both Lord and Christ,
this Jesus whom you crucified.”” If only the women would witness this and witness Jesus’ own words in the Gospel reading:
“So Jesus said again, “Amen, amen, I say to you,
I am the gate for the sheep.
All who came before me are thieves and robbers,
but the sheep did not listen to them.
I am the gate.
Whoever enters through me will be saved,
and will come in and go out and find pasture.
A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy;
I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.””
If you are not Catholic, you may not care. You may see the Vatican as stifling debate etc. If you are Catholic you might buy into the argument that they are oppressed. But really – is it so hard for them to get up in the public square and say – ‘I believe Jesus is Lord. I committed my life to this. My actions aren’t just about social justice, my actions are about bringing Jesus to you so that you might have life, and life in abundance, not just the equality my social justice activities strive for – but life, life in abundance’. Barbara Marx Hubbard, one of their conference speakers, doesn’t bring life, life in abundance. Post-Christian planning at another one of their Conferences doesn’t send this message either!
Is it so hard for them to say it – that Jesus is Lord. Are they so stuck in their us against them mentality that they can’t say it? Are they so opposed to giving allegiance and obedience to this man? Do they have to reinvent God to do so? Their award recipient this year, Elizabeth Johnson, tries to persuade readers to use feminist language when thinking and discussing God. She diminishes Scripture to make God more palatable to her and other like minded people’s way of thinking.
Ratzinger wrote in at least one of his books that we don’t know God’s gender. But he also, as the Church, does reminds readers that Jesus is Son who called God – Father. Why is it so hard to accept this? Why is it so hard to say – I love Jesus, I follow Him? Why are the faithful supposed to pay attention to their kind of witness – the kind that we are warned about today in the readings, the kind that leads to confusion away from Christ as He is, not how we want Him to be?
Benedict started this process of dialogue and hopefully, renewal with the women of the LCWR. Let us pray that they can publicly say as well as hold in their hearts: Jesus, my Lord and God.
In 2008 in his homily in St. Patrick’s Cathedral in the presence of women religious, he said: “So let us lift our gaze upward! And with great humility and confidence, let us ask the Spirit to enable us each day to grow in the holiness that will make us living stones in the temple which he is even now raising up in the midst of our world. If we are to be true forces of unity, let us be the first to seek inner reconciliation through penance. Let us forgive the wrongs we have suffered and put aside all anger and contention. Let us be the first to demonstrate the humility and purity of heart which are required to approach the splendor of God’s truth. In fidelity to the deposit of faith entrusted to the Apostles (cf. 1 Tim 6:20), let us be joyful witnesses of the transforming power of the Gospel!
Dear brothers and sisters, in the finest traditions of the Church in this country, may you also be the first friend of the poor, the homeless, the stranger, the sick and all who suffer. Act as beacons of hope, casting the light of Christ upon the world, and encouraging young people to discover the beauty of a life given completely to the Lord and his Church. I make this plea in a particular way to the many seminarians and young religious present. All of you have a special place in my heart. Never forget that you are called to carry on, with all the enthusiasm and joy that the Spirit has given you, a work that others have begun, a legacy that one day you too will have to pass on to a new generation. Work generously and joyfully, for he whom you serve is the Lord!
The spires of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral are dwarfed by the skyscrapers of the Manhattan skyline, yet in the heart of this busy metropolis, they are a vivid reminder of the constant yearning of the human spirit to rise to God. As we celebrate this Eucharist, let us thank the Lord for allowing us to know him in the communion of the Church, to cooperate in building up his Mystical Body, and in bringing his saving word as good news to the men and women of our time. And when we leave this great church, let us go forth as heralds of hope in the midst of this city, and all those places where God’s grace has placed us. In this way, the Church in America will know a new springtime in the Spirit, and point the way to that other, greater city, the new Jerusalem, whose light is the Lamb (Rev21:23). For there God is even now preparing for all people a banquet of unending joy and life”
Let us pray that with humility and insight the members of the LCWR lift their gaze upward, as well as inward, and recognize the truth of the Gospel, not just the metaphors. Let us pray that we all transcend our own selves to love and humbly serve the Lord and our neighbor. Amen.