Not every morning supplies a miracle. Weeks can go by without walking on water–or water turning into wine, for that matter.
Truthfully, life is more like dry cereal looking for milk–not much to be excited about unless you brought along your own thrills.
This was true in the life of Jesus, too.
Fortunately, the Gospel writers tell us about the good moments and also the bad ones. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John share that sometimes Jesus just hung out, to “tarry” with his friends. And just like us, often his activities were dictated by the whim, intensity and preoccupation of his audience or critics.
In the Good Book, Matthew 19, there is such a situation. Jesus is minding his own business when he is confronted by the Pharisees, who seem to spend a lot of time worrying about things that don’t matter to anyone else. They were especially distressed over the issue of divorce–not because they were against it. The Law of Moses and also the Oral Law, which had been constructed by religious leaders over many centuries, allowed men to divorce their wives simply by leaving a note on the pillow.
The Pharisees felt that Jesus had a different outlook on the subject, so they confronted him about the dilemma.
Jesus made it clear that he believed divorce to be chauvinism. He explained that marriage is meant to be an experience between people of equality, who decide to leave their families to form their own union.
They were very upset.
Yet escaping their probing, Jesus arrives back in camp to discover that his disciples, who had been cut from the same homespun philosophies and bigotry as the Pharisees, were chasing away the women and children. After all, they thought, Jesus was too important to have time for women, who were lesser, and children, who were insignificant.
The feminist in Jesus comes to the forefront. He rebukes his disciples. He tells them to bring the children–which meant the women, also–to him, and he lays hands on the tykes, blesses and enjoys them.
Often we wonder how miracles occur. Miracles happen because people who know how to treat women and children humbly ask for them.
It isn’t about extended periods of prayer, nor ministers on Sabbatical studying the original Greek. Rather, miracles are about people who know how to play with children–people who are aware that a woman is not a “weaker vessel.” When these people pray, God listens.
Jesus treated women as humans. On this week, with “International Women’s Day,” we need to consider what this entails.
Jesus gave women empathy, but not sympathy: You are as good as men, but don’t pull up lame and fall back on femininity when you think it’s to your advantage.
So even though Jesus showed compassion on the woman caught in adultery, he looked her straight in the eyes and said, “Go and sin no more.”
He relished a conversation with the woman at the well in Samaria, but when she said she “had no husband,” he reminded her that she had married five husbands, and was now living with another man.
When his mother tried to interfere with his work, he spoke to her as an equal, not as a son, and said, Back off. It’s not my time.
And when busy Martha was doing all the housework, using the “gift of helps” to feed the disciples and Jesus, he stopped her and said, Your sister Mary has decided to listen to the teaching instead of playing “Harriet Homemaker. Follow suit.”
Life is not about what we do when we’re trying to be spiritual or contemplative. Life is lived in the cracks–those moments that seem insignificant when the world around us has cast a negative vibe and it is our job to bring the light.
Jesus believes that spirit begins with how women and children are treated.
I, for one, think he’s right.
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