Friday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Lectionary: 417

I clothed you with an embroidered gown, put sandals of fine leather on your feet; I gave you a fine linen sash and silk robes to wear.
I adorned you with jewelry: I put bracelets on your arms, 
a necklace about your neck, a ring in your nose, pendants in your ears, and a glorious diadem upon your head.
Thus you were adorned with gold and silver; your garments were of fine linen, silk, and embroidered cloth.
Fine flour, honey, and oil were your food.
You were exceedingly beautiful, with the dignity of a queen.
You were renowned among the nations for your beauty, perfect as it was, because of my splendor which I had bestowed on you, says the Lord GOD. 

Once again the scriptures invite us to ponder the mystery of sexuality. The passage from Ezekiel recalls the marriage of God and his people; the Gospel relates Jesus' answer to the perennial question (scandal) of divorce. If we would speak of sexuality, with good reason the Church directs our attention to the sacrament of marriage, which is essentially mysterious. 

Can a vowed religious priest of retirement age who has stood only on the distant side of the altar during the wedding ceremony, say anything of marriage? 

Let me offer this: I have known "moments" of great joy in conversation with other people. Sometimes they lasted through the night, sometimes they were only brief visits. I mean especially those conversations that one might call intimate. The subject of our conversation might not have been intensely personal or revelatory. The beauty of the moment was simply in its rightness and its healing, reassuring presence. 

I have sometimes thought of those moments as bliss, and I thought, "This is what heaven is like!" 

More recently, however, I realize that they were not always blissful. Sometimes the two of us -- or perhaps the several of us -- were confronted with sadness, or confusion, or anxiety. 

Maybe heaven is like the communion of those moments, which is more open than the narrower bliss. Perhaps we're mistaken if we think heaven is only happy. Human beings are never satisfied with happy in this world; why should we be always happy in the next? 

Ezekiel describes the bliss of the lover who has bestowed great blessings upon his beloved, and the heartache of betrayal. More importantly the prophet describes the persistent love of lover and beloved; they are bound to one another in happiness and hurt. They cannot be separated. As the wit said of marriage, "Divorce? Never! Murder? Perhaps." 

Married couples tell us what heaven is like. It's not always fun; it is right and good and beautiful. 

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I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.