Thursday, November 9, 2017

Talk to Your Father

From Crisis:
Every single culture in the history of the world has been built upon three forms of love. The first is what we have in common with all the animals: it is the most powerful of our natural bonds. It is the love of a mother for her child. The second love gives the first love a haven, and is blessed by God in a special way; it is the love without which children themselves would not exist. That is the love of man and woman in marriage, raised to the height of glory in the marriage of the eternal bridegroom Christ, with his bride, the Church.

The third, we are apt to overlook and neglect. It is the bond of brother and brother. It is not foundational, as is that of mother and child; it is not an image of the eternal, as is that of bride and groom. It is, however, the bond without which no culture comes into existence in the first place, and then survives. It is the bond that builds bridges, tunnels through mountains, raises walls, drains swamps, clears fields, drills wells, fights for the homeland, erects churches and temples, strings the nerves of commerce and power across a continent, and makes a people into a people rather than a confusion of squabbling families.

Is it celebrated in Scripture? It hardly needed to be; it was so taken for granted everywhere. But the answer is yes. We have what a wise friend of mine long ago set before my attention, the “forgotten icon,” the band of brothers we know as Christ and the apostles. Jesus was under no illusions about male perfection. He calls Peter “Satan,” he expresses impatience with Philip for being so slow to understand him, he rebukes James and John—to whom he has given the jaunty and somewhat unflattering nickname, “Sons of Thunder”—for their ambition; and we need not bother to discuss the hard words he has for the important men of his time. Meanwhile his words to women, though they are frank, are always gentle, even when he tests the faith of the Canaanite woman. Yet Jesus chose men for his apostles.

You see, young man, that Jesus himself was a man, and was drawn to the band of brothers, just as he was drawn to every other good thing in our lives: to the flowers of the desert, to happy feasts, to the love of a kind father, to the sacred songs of his forefathers. Let us then pierce through the confusion of your adolescence and the treachery of our times, and see realities again. What Jesus experienced in his humanity—the boy’s attraction to the male band; recall how the boy Jesus remained behind in Jerusalem to trade questions and answers with the learned men?—every boy and young man experiences. Every one of them; it is as natural as breathing. You are not different from any boy or young man in this regard. We are all the same. (Read more.)

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