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August 17, 2018

Fr. Gerard D’Souza, OCSO

19th Friday in Ordinary Time

We have heard this reading from the prophet Ezekiel (Ez. 16:1-15, 60-63) many times and have probably grown used to it. If there is the slightest hint of prudery in us, I am sure we wince with embarrassment when we read this. How we wish God were a Victorian – respectable, genteel, inhibited, restrained, prudish, monkish?. Exactly as we imagine how God should be, right?

The candor, the almost unrestrained passion of this particular passage is like a body blow. Such passion, such carnality coming from God is too much. What is even more is that it is a passion for Israel. I guess the sensuality of this passage might shock us but an even bigger shock and this is something we do not advert to easily – the bigger shock is that God wants to wed a creature. This is God pining, passionate about a creature. This is a new thing. In the pagan religions around Israel, gods married and lusted after goddesses not creatures. Here the Almighty God seeks to wed His creature. What sort of creature? Not someone high born. A cast off, abandoned, something loathsome. And God does not just take pity. He wants to marry this creature. Everything He does is to make her ready for love.

I believe we should each one of us, ponder this. If the language shocks us and makes us wince – consider that it is only a faint intimation of the passion of God for each one of us. Let’s not reverse the order. This passage is a faint reflection of the passion of God for us. The passion of God is not a faint reflection of the shocking language and thought of this passage.

In some sense, each of one us has the Victorian in us when it comes to God. Let’s be civil with each other, God – that is enough. Let’s not go too far. What would the neighbors say? Let’s be genteel, polite. I will pay my tithes, say my prayers, do my good works, and keep You at arm’s length. Let’s not go overboard with this love thing, okay? You have a huge universe to run and are busy enough.

But all this is really a cop out in the end. A defanging of the Word of God, a domestication, a shield against the passion of God. Why? Because we are afraid it might ask for everything and we would rather have our cake and eat it too. Or we think we would not qualify, we could never make the grade to deserve this.  But why not begin by believing this is true and begin there and let God worry about keeping the promises He has made.