Recently, when on the checkout line in the supermarket, I caught an older gentleman staring intently at me. I was wearing my “Every great mother teaches her children the ways of the Force” shirt. When I caught his eye he said, “The Force…like Obi Wan.”
“That’s right!” I said.
“I wouldn’t want to be raising kids now.” he said.
Well, that was all I needed to hear. I have an annoying condition called “Runningoffathemouth” that prevents me from being silent if provided an opportunity to sound off. Frankly, I’m not sure how I still have any friends…
So, I ascended my soap box and said something about how raising kids in any time period has its challenges; that it’s never easy. He expressed his concern about what parents are up against with the culture being so contrary to anything wholesome. True enough, I said, but the tone and boundaries a family sets, the context and values that are modeled are up to the parents to provide. The way we treat one another and those outside of our family will become the standard of how our children behave when they are away from us. We have the most significant impact on the worldview our children will adopt, and we give them a foundation…and truth, justice and the American way!
(Cue the breeze blowing my cape behind me.)
Who am I? That’s easy, I’m Spock. BuzzFeed says so, so it must be true.
Like many people, I enjoy taking online quizzes—so much so, that they have now begun showing up in the advertisements that pop into my Facebook feed. It still freaks me out a bit that they are tailored to my particular interests, but not enough for me not to take them. Through these quizzes, I have discovered that I should live in England, Rivendell, the Shire, the Victorian period—or the 80’s—and own a cottage in the woods. I have found out that if I was an Avenger I’d be Captain America (no brainer), if I was a companion of The Doctor I’d be Rory (maybe), if I was a character from a Jane Austen novel I’d be Fanny Price (wrong! I’m an Elizabeth Bennett all the way), If I was a Star Trek character I’d be Spock (absolutely), if I was a LOTR character I’d be Merry (not sure about that one) and if I was a character on Big Bang Theory I’d be Sheldon (that’s true).
In today’s first reading, the prophet Isaiah shows us the suffering servant of God. He would know this figure personally, as most of the prophets were rejected, abused and killed. When we experience suffering in our lives, we are comforted by a God who experienced suffering first hand—Jesus. There is no pain, no sadness, no disappointment that Jesus doesn’t understand. And, his suffering brings meaning to ours. He is the High Priest—the sacrifice of His suffering means salvation for us all. Our suffering can bring healing to others, too.
In the Gospel, James and John think it a good idea to ask Jesus for places of honor when he comes into his glory. Jesus responds that they don’t know what they’re asking for—that kind of honor comes with a price. He does not want us to think of our personal glory, our status, our honor. He wants us to lift up one another instead. We will have authority—serious authority—but it’s only useful if we use it for the service of others. In fact, if we try to “lord it over” others and “make our authority felt,” we forfeit it. Jesus gave everything up for us and we have to do the same for one another.
Having grown up Catholic, gruesome, scary and tragic stories have always been part of my experience. I never thought much of them, they were just always there. And I didn’t mind them because they always had a purpose—they pointed to a loving, compassionate, eternal God who didn’t let the scary things win. Now, I was scared to death of things like the Blob and the Mole People—being Catholic didn’t make me immune to frightful things. But, it did make me appreciate them. They bring a certain fascination, but I always look for a lesson or some meaning in it. Just about everything that’s really important to us was gained through some sort of pain, challenge or horror.
This Sunday’s readings are one of those rare and wonderful times when we hear an original story from the Hebrew Scriptures, and then Jesus quotes the story in his teaching. In the Book of Genesis we hear the second story of Creation when God creates the first man and woman, making them suitable partners for one another. We see that God intends for us to live in community, and that we thrive and are most fulfilled when we have others to share our lives with—particularly in the context of family. When questioned on divorce, Jesus affirms God’s intention for us, instructing us on the life-giving nature of marriage and the commitment, unity and salvation that marriage has to offer us. He also brings children to himself, embracing and blessing them, showing everyone what a special gift they are. They bring joy and holiness to a family and remind us of how we should interact with God—like children dependent on their loving Father.
Most of the time, when I’m watching a movie or TV show, I can see right through it. I catch the foreshadowing and can predict what’s coming (and sometimes dialogue—which means that it must be pretty poorly written). I have worked in pastoral ministry for almost 20 years. That means that I should be able to see a lie coming from a mile away.
But, last week’s episode of Doctor Who, “The Witch’s Familiar” had my poor brain in a tizzy. I should have seen through Davros’ act—he even gave himself away early in the conversation when he called “compassion” in the Daleks a “defect.” He told The Doctor that compassion “grows strong and fierce in you like a cancer” and that it “will kill you in the end,” to which The Doctor replied, “I wouldn’t die of anything else.” “You may rely on it.” Davros warned. I mean, he completely laid it out there. He said it flat out. Could he have been more obvious?!
But, I got sucked in to his tears. I got sucked into his apparent remorse right along with The Doctor.