Monday, March 19, 2012

Lent: Joyful Mondays

The fourth Joyful mystery is the Presentation of Jesus. From this mystery we are supposed to gain the fruit of obedience. Here's my take.

Civilized society is based on obedience. Even in our "land of the free" we have ubiquitous laws that govern almost every aspect of our lives. Some people chafe at the "restrictions" such laws put upon us. At the very least, many pick and choose which laws to obey.As an avid Catholic, I enter into discussions about religion quite frequently. One of the objections I hear reiterated is that Catholicism has too many rules. Compared to strict Judaism (as Christ followed), there aren't that many rules. However, by modern society's judgement, there are myriad rules. This viewpoint only emphasizes the ignorance of society's laws by many. For my primarily rural state, the book of state laws is approximately 2 inches thick and just shy of 1600 pages (not counting indexes and appendices). That equates to a LOT of laws!

In Jesus's time, to disobey the law, even "minor" infractions, could cost you a limb or even your life. Punishments were quite severe and often public. Sometimes a law didn't even have to be infringed upon, just the suggestion of disobedience was likely to cause you severe discomfort (to put it mildly). Nowadays, people seldom think twice before disobeying "stupid" or "illogical" laws.

With ancient laws in mind, it makes complete sense that Mary and Joseph presented Jesus at the temple at the appointed time. Although we know Jesus was already consecrated to the Father, since He is one with the Father, according to the law all first born sons "shall be called holy to the Lord" (Luke 2:23-24). Mary and Joseph knew Jesus was spectacular, but they didn't fully understand His divine nature. Therefore it behooved them to follow the law explicitly.

Regarding modern laws, a popular refrain right now is for the Church to "stay out of bedrooms". Ancient Judaism did enter into adherents' bedrooms: dictating appropriate times, positions, and clothing. The Catholic Church, in contrast, only asks adherents to follow the natural order of intimacy. In other words, do not put anything between the flesh nor do anything that prohibits the natural flow. Regarding other aspects of bedroom behavior, the Church is silent, although seems to tacitly encourage healthy pleasure in intimacy as long as it follows the natural order.

As a Catholic, I am dismayed at the governments intrusion into my moral code by requiring my Church to fund immorality in the guise of free birth control, abortions, and sterilizations. The Church is trying to stay out of non-believers bedrooms. By forcing the Church to fund such things, the federal government is not only trampling upon the First Amendment, but also involving the Church (and other opponents) in bedroom behavior. If the people really want laws "out of the bedroom" then the federal government should comply as well!

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