“Don’t you even kiss?”
Our Turkey holiday week. Memories again. A family night. This wonderful extended family we came to know. And a young couple: engaged. The young lady speaking fluent English. And entirely disinterested in translating on our behalf between the rest of her family and us. Her interest was in sitting next to her fiancé – a rare occasion. Meeting us far less interesting than her own hormone rush and brush with her handsome young man – for a whole evening – together – allowed!
I asked the question about kissing in fun. And received her innocent and giggly “No – never! We can never!” She and her sister (also engaged) knowing exactly the right answer to give. Their father was sitting in the same room, and despite her father speaking no English, neither lady was taking any chances … boys and girls in Turkey never kiss – ever!
That small conversation came to mind on the day the Church celebrates Mary getting pregnant. Nine months to the day until Jesus pops out on Christmas morning. So today we have that reproduction act involving bodily fluids, and sweaty bodies, and intimate moments – not usually aired in the bible unless wedlock has already locked in all parties. And if not wedlock – then the act should be handcuffed to a good dose of Sin. Hmmmm …
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her. Luke 1:26-38
My confusion was we are in Lent … now we are conceiving … yet we have just had the birth … and we are on the way to the cross … confusing!
So I was reading around this “Annunciation Day” – Conception Day – to learn more. And as the Holy Spirit is involved – it was quite interesting. This sweaty moment for the rest of us? It has become another “we do not kiss ever!” moment.
Not in the bible. The bible is cool. The interesting part was writing around the bible – this kind of stuff. Commentary kinda stuff. “Us” kind of stuff – the ologies crowd.
And to make sure the message is airbrushed correctly there seems to have been applied ever increasing doses of sanitising fluid. The “virgin birth” refined and refined again. Mary now sinless her whole life leading to this moment. Mary now a perpetual virgin never intending ever to consummate her marriage with her betrothed. Joseph an aged and decrepit old man incapable of the physical act of love in the bedroom. The physical act of sweaty sex and reproduction that initiates our beautiful creation – no we never even kiss!
Another example of making sure we keep the dirt away from Jesus. Keeping God safe. Taking the love out of Love. And in the process denying ourselves so much.
We are so good at that …
“True humility does not attract many in this new age of self-realization. We tend to equate humility with self-abasement, but such “humility” would attract only the mentally ill, and it is not Christian humility. If you cling to a negative self-image and have no great respect for your gifts, you are not being humble. You are showing no gratitude to God, who gave you the gifts, and this sin of ingratitude provides the deepest wellspring of every other sin. You hate yourself, whom God loves. This fake humility masks a flinty pride: you refuse to love the gifts and even the self that God is giving you. This is a self-deceiving way of telling God, “I will not serve.” Christian humility, properly understood, requires a strong sense of self, and the greater the humility, the stronger the sense of self. For as more than one saint has remarked, humility is seeing and acknowledging the truth about yourself and your world. If you are smart, you are lying—not being humble—if you act as though you are not. Consider this: Jesus Christ, the Son of God, said that he was “gentle and humble in heart” (Matthew 11:29), and all four Gospels tell of a man who knew perfectly well who he was, a man with an unshakably strong sense of self.”
J A Tetlow SJ, Making Choices in Christ: The Foundations of Ignatian Spirituality.
Let’s put Love back into this wondrous act of creation – our own creation! Happy Conception Day!!