This blog follows the daily bible readings of the Catholic Church
Reading 1, Revelation 14:1-3, 4b-5
1 Next in my vision I saw Mount Zion, and standing on it the Lamb who had with him a hundred and forty-four thousand people, all with his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads.2 I heard a sound coming out of heaven like the sound of the ocean or the roar of thunder; it was like the sound of harpists playing their harps.
3 There before the throne they were singing a new hymn in the presence of the four living creatures and the elders, a hymn that could be learnt only by the hundred and forty-four thousand who had been redeemed from the world. 4 These are the sons who have kept their virginity and not been defiled with women; they follow the Lamb wherever he goes; they, out of all people, have been redeemed to be the first-fruits for God and for the Lamb. 5 No lie was found in their mouths and no fault can be found in them.
I don’t know what the purpose is of the male virginity celebrated here, but it is one of the passages in the bible where the reader should say, “This is not the word of the Lord!” It contains dirty propaganda against women. What allows an author to write the words, “defiled with women”?
The Greek novelist, Katzanzakis, in his book about St Francis has his hero preach before the Sultan and use expressions like “defiled” in relation to women. The Sultan stops him and tells him that he will listen to stories of Christ, but if Francis insults his womenfolk again he will be killed without further ado.
The transference of male lust and disgust to its female object is one of the least attractive aspects of Christian thinking, and is not unconnected to the refusal of churches in the catholic tradition to give women equality in their ministries. Wee adolescent boys who never grew up dignify their fear of women as being derived from the practice of Jesus. What nonsense!
Gospel, Luke 21:1-4
1 Looking up, he saw rich people putting their offerings into the treasury; 2 and he noticed a poverty-stricken widow putting in two small coins, 3 and he said, ‘I tell you truly, this poor widow has put in more than any of them; 4 for these have all put in money they could spare, but she in her poverty has put in all she had to live on.’
Jesus gave dignity to the widow by recognising her generosity. Before we provide help for poor people, we must do the same. They have contrived to live with very little and we have no right to diminish their independence by any act of unasked assistance. Creating a more equal society would be our best move. That’s what the first church in Jerusalem did.
At present, one of the tactics of the apostles of inequality in the UK and USA is to attack the honour of poor people by suggesting that they are mainly scroungers. Christian people should resist this nonsense vigorously, recognising it as a way of refusing justice. Jesus’ example of seeing and understanding the life of a poor woman show help us keep our eyes open.