Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy Bris-mas!

Icon of Jesus' circumcision with St. Basil.
Yesterday, our sacristan, Sebastian, and I were talking about the upcoming Feast of the Circumcision, as he laid out the vestments for this morning's Sung Mass.  "Why is it," he queried, "that there is so little observance of this event in Jesus' life in the modern Church?"  Sebastian's question was a good one, and indeed, the First of January is usually observed these days as the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus.  A couple of years ago when I was still a seminarian, I preached on both of these feasts, elucidating the connection between the name of Jesus and his circumcision.  For the audio podcast of that sermon, click here.

What's going on, though, as I said to Sebastian, is a continuing discomfort within the Church around issues of the body, and especially human sexuality.  The body is gritty, dirty, untidy, and has been endowed by the Church with a heritage of shame and fear; but the fact is that without those untidy bodies, none of us would be here, and that includes Jesus.  For some reason, people are made nervous by the idea that Jesus and Mary would have all the same human parts we do; and yet if we believe that Jesus was fully human, as well as fully divine, we must accept that he had, well--dare I use the "P" word--private parts.  See, even I get nervous trying to say it!  And Mary must have had hers, as well, because the Bible tells us that she had children after Jesus.  So, that calls into question our outdated and outmoded prudishness around the body.  After all, people in the days of Jesus often lived in a single room, parents and children together, with their animals, and the youngins were exposed to a lot more of human grittiness than we would think appropriate now.  Our Lord and Our Lady were probably not nearly as embarrassed as we are about all of this body-talk today.  So, before I get myself in trouble, I'll simply state that we all just need to get over all this body shame, with respect to ourselves, and with respect to Our Lord.  That just leaves me to wish all of you, as one of our servers said to me mischievously this morning, a Happy Bris-mas!

1 comment:

  1. Since you're a good sport Fr. Ethan and this kind of relates to your posting, I thought I would share this. I hope no one is offended, I thought it was really funny.