Friday, January 23, 2009
Two of my close friends Joseph and Martha are not young. Joseph is 55 and Martha is 40. Joseph is married and Martha is divorced. They have known each other for 3 months. Two weeks ago Martha said to Joseph: ‘You are my best friend’ after he had complimented her for her beauty. You see-we revel in being appreciated and complimented in anything that adds to our own self esteem or that enhances our own perception about the world whether physical or mental. We all need to feel that we are accepted by others, and more deeply "loved" by others. This is why Martha kept telling Joseph in their earlier correspondence that she appreciates his sweet spirit and enjoys their conversations. If what he was telling her did not conform to her views of things, she may find that they are not communicating. If he did not joke with her, she, being a humorous woman may find him unbearable. But this is only part of friendship. Now to the bombshell: One of the main things, I think, that attract men and women is their physical beauty (based probably on their perception with people they saw when they were children.) I think that human males and females really look for some kind of physical beauty in each other. Not only do they look for mental and spiritual communication but also for physical communication. They look for becoming one. The physical union is ultimately expressed in mating. In addition to physical compatibility, each of them must be communicating with the other spiritually and mentally. When this happens, then a man and woman can really make the next step, which is falling in love by attraction. However, the other cannot be treated as an object but as a person equal to me and has dignity as much as I do. Of course, this is not the perfect love at all, but still, from an anthropological view, it is a starting level of love. In the evolution of life, humanity is at the top of species with bigger brain, language, the ability to imitate, learn and adapt, and communicate through language. Over the many thousands of years, cultures were built from tribal societies to kingdoms. They were not only governed by men but women were considered less than human. Women were traded and used for men's interests. They were owned by men. This is why in all ancient cultures including the primitive Judeo-Christian and Islamic cultures, women were forbidden to show their hair, or in extreme cases they were not to talk to strangers. It was a patriarchal society. But how far can women (or men) stay physically beautiful? Martha is today 40. In a year, she will turn 41. She is getting older and her physical beauty will slowly become less and less. There is no escape from this reality even if she continues to color her hair. In 10 years, her hair may start falling. I have seen very beautiful women for years and I see the difference now when they are in their fifties. Their eyes and their bodies are not the same. Of course, new technologies are attempting to use cosmetic surgeries to retain the appearance of beauty but it is in vain. Beauty, in my opinion, is more than physical beauty. So when I say "I love you" or "I luv you" (as the new generation uses it), it is important that we realize the fact that love is deeper than mere emotions, deeper than mere appearance and deeper than communication. For the woman, it is accepting the man to take her and fully trusting that he will not "eat" her but will make her one with him (that is, in my opinion, the true metaphysical meaning of the sexual intercourse). For the man, it is giving himself totally and unconditionally for this woman. The result of bonding in intercourse, which is not only physical, is a physical fetus, a person, a baby. This is how God designed love to be completed between man and woman. It is more than physical and it is fruitful in children. The image reflects the Christian God, the Trinity who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit in one essence. The deepest reality of God (a limitless-love relatedness of persons), is reflected in the image of a man, a woman, and their offspring. When men and women, committed to each other, grow older, not only can they lose being attractive physically to each other, but may also lose their interest in each other. Unless truly committed to each other, some men can start looking elsewhere for a new partner, and women too. In our contemporary society, I know friends who have separated after long marriages. Last week I watched a program on CBC that showed real people who are now trying to divorce in a collaborative way in order to protect their children whom they love. It takes more than emotions and feelings to sustain any relationship between a man and woman. It takes continuous efforts on both sides to stay fresh in their love. It takes the will and commitment that I am for her (or him) alone all my life. This relationship can only be completed in a Catholic marriage: Permanent, monogamous, and fruitful. Otherwise, we are back to the primitive ways of relationships between men and women which involve adultery, promiscuity, masked sexual slavery, and polygamy. We, in fact, have not touched yet on true love as it is meant in Christian love. It was Jesus Christ who introduced to the world the idea of God as a loving father. Jewish tradition, according to Biblical scholarship knew of God as father but never called him: Father (Abba which is an Aramaic word for Daddy). Now, we can pray to our Father -Daddy. When the "Prodigal Son" left his father's home and was in deep trouble, his Daddy, in the Gospel, was still looking for him until one day the son returned home and, at once, his father made a celebration. "For your brother was dead and now he is alive" the father told his older son. It was Jesus Christ who introduced to the world the great words "Love your enemies..." He was full of love towards every man and woman. He is known to have said this when he was dying on the cross: " Forgive them Father for they know not what they do." I just wanted to show how far have we gone away from the ideal of love that Jesus Christ set in teaching and in deed for the human race. Today, self-satisfaction has replaced self-sacrifice that it is the norm for relationships. Today, a man and a woman may feel attraction to each other, that they think they are in love. They may enjoy time together and call it love. They may sexually engage in the act of love and never remember what it was meant for! True love is a much bigger word than "luv"!!!
Monday, January 19, 2009
This past Friday we saw with our own eyes the victory of Jesus Christ, yet in another witness. Michel Tawil gave us his story of conversion from Islam to Christianity. His conversion caused him and his family troubles with their own Muslim families, and their neighbours. He lost his inheritance as a Muslim son, and became estranged in his own community. When he attempted to restart his business, it was burned, and he ended up losing all his belongings. Even Israeli authorities refused him and explelled him with his family. He faced death by the Muslim fatwa that a renegade (Mortad) must be expelled from life here on earth and eternal life. But the most horrible statement he received from the Muslim Imam was this:
"You may return and come back as a Muslim. However this will not save you from the fire of hell
after death. The only way to avoid eternal damnation is to commit a suicide-attack to kill Jews."
He was able to escape at last by being accepted as a refugee in Canada going through Columbia.
The lesson is clear. Over almost 2000 years, the Church, the body of Christ, was built by the blood of martyrs as early as the Apostles themselves, and the suffering of many of God's servants, who became saints through much persecution, physical and spiritual. But the one thing that made them members of the Church Victorious, was how much they loved. How much they loved God and loved Man in their life.
Jesus Christ, Son of God and Son of Man, is still knocking on the door of our hearts to listen and get him in. When we do that, we will also sing: Jesus Christ is the Everlasting Victor!