|Painting by Shiloh Sophia|
Jesus: Blessed is He among women?
HEY, WAIT, it was Mary who was blessed among women! But Jesus!? Women seem to be left out of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. How can the triune God be in community with nothing but men or masculine archetypes? We first see these with the eyes of a child in church or Sunday school. Their deeply ingrained ‘naturalness’ makes it hard for women—or girls who may sense this gap only vaguely—to work with a more inclusive backdrop when thinking of God or Jesus today. We get many contradictory signals.
God the Father, Our Father. God is Love. What my childhood told me did not conform to what my church taught me. My father was not love, so how could I even think of the male deity and its offshoots: Lord, King…Kingdom…? Children see archetypes of the divine in stories, songs, images, but also in their life experiences. The church (I began as a Methodist) did everything it could to make Jesus gentle and child-friendly. He went after the lost sheep and came back holding the lamb. I was a lost child: Would he hold me? We would sing,
Jesus loves me, this I know.Love from that great black book where God the Father lives? Weak little ones belong to strong Jesus. This was not reassuring. This little near-sighted girl who was supposed to have had a miracle of healing was weak enough. Was gentle Jesus meek and mild who, we sang, “loves... all the children of the world” strong enough in segregated Baltimore to bring about that dream mix of “red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight?” (Root) Jesus was, sadly, more like my mother – weak – and brought lower by my father’s rants on a clean house or racism… So mother love felt more like smother love, I confess, with regret: clingy, alternating with bouts of intense anger. Does Jesus’ own mother, Mary offer any consolation, as she did in a mysterious, almost pagan way for my Catholic neighbors?
For the Bible tells me so.
Little ones to him belong.
They are weak but he is strong
Protestants brought her out only at Christmas as part of the crèche. One year our church had a living nativity. Somehow my mother was chosen to be Mary. She was radiant in her blue gown, waiting for the vibrant fairly good looking minister to come for her with a donkey up our long country road. My father was having none of this: a man, even a minister, was taking away his property? He ranted; she cried. Then the knock on the door. All the drama disappeared. “Shhhh, it’s the minister.” Another man. My mother went off without another peep from my father. Somehow I got down to the nativity to see her. I can’t imagine my father taking us unless he wanted to check on her. She was beautiful. But there was, I knew, an emptiness inside her. Just as a child I “belonged” to Jesus, she “belonged” to the minister/Joseph, and to my father… I was to learn that the Catholic Mary, Blessed Mother, Queen of Heaven, was to fare little better. She had to be virgin to come into contact with the boy god, and perfect. Not a real woman who was pregnant and gave birth, though “the Bible tells me” she was.
by Bonnie Odiorne, PhD. An excerpt from her essay the upcoming Girl God Anthology, Jesus, Mohammad and the Goddess.