Monday, August 25, 2008

La Difference

Who are these people who announce periodically in yet "another important psychological breakthrough" there is no difference between the sexes? Did they grow up under a rock? Do they not have mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, cousins, schoolmates, girlfriends, boyfriends, spouses, children? Most people have at least two of the above, more than ample example to demonstrate the serious differences between the genders.

So as to educate these (s)experts who obviously have not shared living space with siblings of the opposite gender, or had the privilege of raising boys and girls who are of the same species, I am prepared to offer definitive scientific instruction on "la difference" (as in "vive"). Voici:

Take one portable tape player whose batteries need changing. A man will instantly locate the back panel, slide it open with his thumbnail, neatly flip out the old batteries, snap in four new ones without looking, and in one motion replace the back panel. Twenty seconds....tops.

Now, a woman who can simultaneously prepare an elaborate meal for six, while refereeing a fight over whose turn it is to set the table, and politely fend off unsolicited dinnertime calls from Krazy Karl’s Karpetcleaning Kompany, will need to examine this same portable tape player for at least twenty seconds just to locate the back panel ever neatly camouflaged as a speaker grill clone. Then - she has learned from past experience - she must carefully place the machine between her knees, press two thumbs on alleged sliding panel and push with all her might. Nothing will happen. Gamely, she will try again ... and again, her face growing red with exertion. When, of course, it still won't budge, she will spend the next ten minutes rummaging through bathroom cabinets for a nail file, which she'll then wedgy under the ridge beneath the raised black plastic arrow. She'll twist fiercely, and with a groan and a snap the panel will explode from the machine amidst bits of black plastic which will cascade about her. Sweeping away the offending shards, she'll use the same nail file to dislodge the batteries, and must, in the end, shake the machine to remove the last battery.

Of course, in the exasperation of the procedure, she'll not have had occasion to note which battery came from where, and will crawl about looking for the back panel which skittered across the floor in the explosion. Locating it in the cat’s bowl, she'll look with dismay upon the raised, stamped battery map on its back, an array worthy of the WWII Crypto-cipher Hall of Fame. Ever versatile, she'll click the tape player PLAY button, and load new batteries in a variety of patterns, continuing until she hears life from the speakers. Since there are no ridges left on which to slide the remains of the back panel, she'll deftly lay it in place and secure it with duct tape. Voila. Twenty minutes...tops.

I mean, really, what more proof is needed than that? Yet, despite this very scientific conclusive evidence about these obvious God-created differences between men and women, I know there are some Catholics out there who still believe it is just a matter of time before the Vatican announces a female priesthood - obviously people still not clear on the concept. Quite simply, it is God’s done deal. The pope can no more declare a female priesthood tomorrow, than he can declare pregnancy for men the day after that. It is not his to proclaim, for God has indicated in His history with us that these matters are His.

Now, having read much of what the Church has to say on this matter - and, indeed, the matter has been declared closed, I found that talks on Old Testament sacrifice by Dr. Scott Hahn led me to a deeper understanding: In His perfection, and in complete freedom, God ordained from the beginning that the priesthood be male, whether the early formal priesthoods of Melchizedek, Aaron, and the Levites, or the recorded Old Testament sacrifices made by the fathers of families.

The most solemn of these sacrifices in Jewish tradition is the Passover. God commanded Moses to instruct the Hebrew men to take one-year-old unblemished male lambs, slaughter them, and sprinkle the blood on the wooden lintels of their doors. Then the lambs were to be roasted and entirely consumed by family groupings. If they did this faithfully and completely, they would be spared the destroying Passover angel. Now, they couldn’t choose to modify God’s command by selecting rams, female lambs, or just fry up a few lamb kebobs with mint sauce. If they made these modifications, they would have awakened to find their firstborn sons dead. It was only the perfect sacrifice of that unblemished male lamb that spared them.

Of course, we know Jesus is the new Passover Lamb. Early in the gospel of John it is recorded that John the Baptist saw Jesus coming toward him and stated, "Look, there is the lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world." Jesus is the Lamb of God who was sacrificed for us, His blood sprinkled on the wood of the cross, His body which we consume. God-with-us was male, and at the Last Supper He chose to confer priesthood on male apostles.

Perhaps, some say, it was cultural? No, Jesus consistently defied cultural conventions in His ministry. The link is clear: the male lamb was the sacrificial Passover offering offered by males, and, in the New Covenant, Christ, the Lamb of God was sacrificed once and for all for our sins. He leaves behind a priesthood: men who, at the Consecration of the Mass stand in persona Christi, in the person of Christ, the male Lamb who was victim and priest.

Surely if Jesus had meant the priesthood to be conferred on women He would have conferred it on His Mother: the one who declared herself blessed by all generations; the one who was the new Ark of the Covenant, bearing God-with-us in her womb; the one who was taken body and soul into heaven as Enoch and Elijah were; the one whom Jesus indicated is the Mother of us all. But He who was the fulfillment of the law of the Old Testament and defied the laws of his culture chose not to. He pointed to a different purpose for this woman -- and all women.

God so cherishes the female, He has conferred on her a different gift: the gift of biological lifebearing - a lifebearing denied to men. He seeks to spare her from the dramatic violence and death - real and conceptual - associated with blood sacrificial offerings. That spiritual lifebearing of sin atonement has been reserved from the earliest days to men.

Amen to that, sisters. And, isn’t it about time we ‘fessed up: give birth, hold and feed with our very own bodies that precious life in your arms, and know we just may have the better part of the deal.

Enough said.

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