Wednesday, February 2, 2022

What's wrong with me?

If you are old enough to remember the pop psychology aptly entitled, I'm Okay, You're Okay, maybe you might understand why the Presentation of Our Lord and the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary does not relate to us.  In that book, Thomas Harris presented us with a a practical guide to transactional analysis as a method for solving problems in life. More than this, it was a path to maturity that expected we could and should all arrive at the best state -- I'm okay, you're okay -- after passing through the minefields of parental failings whereby we found either ourselves not okay or others not okay.  It was a big success -- selling some 15 million copies and occupying a spot on the best seller list for years.  Perhaps it was too successful.

Whether Harris had anything to do with it or not, we have arrived at that spot where we presume that we are okay -- what we think and feel is not open to question or challenge -- and we are working to create a climate of justice in which everyone else is accorded the same status.  In this world, sexual desire is without challenge or question, just like gender identity.  In this world, offensive things from past and present must be removed to preserve the safe space in which we do not have to suffer things we find disagreeable or objectionable.  God's job, if there is a God in this world, is to give His divine sanction to what we think, feel, or esteem to be good, right, and salutary.  It is not His place to second guess us or challenge those thoughts, feelings, or judgments.  He is certainly not allowed to judge us; it is our place to judge Him!

So when you come to a feast day like the Presentation of Our Lord and the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, something has to give.  After all, this is a day about the requirement of a law to be fulfilled -- a law which the people found as strange then as we do now.  Furthermore, it seems to require Jesus and His Virgin Mother to do something more than what they were already doing in fulfilling the Father's will and purpose in His incarnation and in the Holy Mother's consent.  Jesus is presented not as someone special but as all first born sons.  It is both the thanksgiving for the birth and the acknowledgement that every birth is subject to God's own creative will and purpose and not simply the passion of a man and a woman.  In an age in which technology substitutes for love, when children can be flushed out of the womb and discarded like yesterday's trash, and chemicals used to trick the body into preventing pregnancy, this whole thing seems, well, barbaric.  Even worse, in the age of Feminism the whole idea of a woman being unclean is misogynistic and discriminatory and that she might have to be purified according to some law (translate than patriarchy) is shocking and unacceptable.  Yet there is Blessed Mary and the infant Jesus in the Temple to do what the law of God required.

The whole premise of this day is submission and it is objectionable to the modern mind precisely because of that premise.  Submission is itself suspect -- whether as creature before the Creator or the redeemed before their Redeemer or, worse, woman before man in marriage.  The only submission allowed is when the collective will and purpose requires it (vaccination mandates, pandemic restrictions, masks, and shut downs).  Apart from the purpose of a woke culture acting in its woke mindset to preserve the collective health, safety, and security of the populace, submission is not something a part of our vocabulary anymore.  Yet this is precisely what this feast day is about.  Submission.  The submission of the incarnate Son of God to the Father's saving will and purpose to fulfill all righteousness.  The submission of the Virgin who consented to become the Mother of our Lord even to the same law.  Both acting in perfect faith, consonant with who they are.  Jesus fulfills the law that was given to God's people on behalf of God's people and, indeed, the world.  Blessed Mary fulfills the law that was given to God's people as an act of faith and obedience -- the most perfect worship of all.  With the wisdom come down from above it makes perfect sense but to a world that no longer has any agreed upon moral truth and which has lost its own narrative by rejecting God's Word, it is the ultimate lunacy.

We will never explain away the stark contrast between the world around us and what happens on this day as the people of God gather to remember and give thanks for the incarnate Son of God's submission to the saving will and purpose of His Father on high and for the obedient faith of His Virgin Mother who esteemed God more highly than herself.   We are definitely not okay but God is more than okay -- He acts according to mercy to rescue a people unsure they want or need His aid.  Jesus carries the weight of our sins while fulfilling perfectly the obedience of the law and then turns around and gives that righteousness to us in our presentation to the Father in Baptism.  Happy Candlemas!


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