This Sunday’s Gospel offers a kind of entrance into the Holy of Holies … a little taste, for all those with tongues to savor it, of the nectar of divine glory shared eternally between Father and Son. How does one acquire a “tongue to savor it”? It’s a mystical kind of sensitivity that grows in us not so much from thinking but from drinking. We must give ourselves permission to feel the cry of the Bride in this weekend’s second reading: “Come!” And the Bridegroom responds: “Let the one who thirsts come forward.” Those who do will recognize the promise of the satisfaction of their deepest yearnings in Christ’s prayer to the Father “that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they may also be in us.” Those with the courage to follow where that powerful little word “in” leads will cross the threshold of the divine intimacy, fulfilling Jesus’ wish “that where I am they also may be with me, that they may see my glory that you gave me….” Not only will we see the glory (the beauty, the joy, the infinite radiation of love-goodness) that the Father has given the Son – the Son also gives that same glory to us! “And I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me.” Our bodies as male and female tell this story: the story that we are called to be one with the Trinity: them in us and us in them… Jesus, take us “in” to this great mystery!
We need Jesus and Elvis in our life, says Greg Brown, the Grammy-nominated folk musician Mike Mangione interviews in the debut episode of his new podcast “Time and the Mystery”. I sense what he was getting at. He was trying to hold together different aspects of his personality and musical inspiration. So is Mike Mangione in this new venture and dialogue with the culture.
If you’ve attended a live presentation of mine over the last several years, chances are you’ve heard the soulful cry of Mike Mangione’s music. From the first time I heard Mike sing, I knew he was an “artist of the ache” – a guy who was brave enough to tap into that abyss of yearning in the human heart and give voice to it in his art. Since his band first accompanied my presentations at World Youth Day in Sydney (2008), Mike’s music has been part of what I do whenever his busy touring schedule has allowed.
Mike is a student of the human condition with a great love for people – and he’s met some fascinating ones in his musical adventures throughout America and the world. This new podcast allows listeners to eavesdrop on thought-provoking conversations Mike has with artists and other public figures he’s come to know over the years. The goal is to uncover people’s inspiration, process and how they connect with their audiences. There’s no forced agenda, but, as these conversations meander, they tend to reveal the universal thread we all share in our humanity – regardless of differences in background, race, age, interests, religious beliefs, etc.
In this Sunday’s Gospel we hear Jesus proclaim: “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.” The concept of God’s “dwelling” has a rich and detailed history in biblical revelation. It passes in the Old Testament through the mystery of the ark and the tabernacle to the temple and the holy of holies. All of these mysteries culminate in Mary who, by conceiving the Son of God in her womb, became the dwelling place of God. This is the mystery of woman’s body: through Mary, woman’s body has become heaven on earth … God’s dwelling place. And this is why, as Saint John Paul II taught, woman is the model of the whole human race. She reveals what it means to be human: to open to receive the fullness of God, conceive the fullness of God, and bear that forth into the world for others. This is the theology of a woman’s body! What’s the theology of a man’s body? In all purity we can observe that man is called as “high priest” to enter the holy of holies and offer his flesh and blood there. Our bodies indeed proclaim a “great mystery”! Lord, open our eyes to it. Make your dwelling within us!
When I opened my email inbox yesterday morning, several people had sent me a link to The New York Times article “Prince’s Holy Lust” with comments like: “Thought you’d find this interesting” and “What’s your take on this?” and “Seems Prince was on to something.”
As a typical teenager of the 80s, I followed some of Prince’s music (I remember a Prince pin I had on my jean jacket, next to Adam Ant and The Clash), but I never knew he was a rather fervent Jehovah’s Witness until reading stories in the press about his untimely death last week. The New York Times piece mentioned above observes that in Prince’s music we find “the erotic intertwined with the divine,” then observes that the “Judeo-Christian ethic seems to demand that sexuality and spirituality be walled off from each other.”
This is a tired, old mantra. And I wish to God above it would stop.
I get it, though. I get why so many people think this.
As Pope Francis affirms right at the start of chapter one of The Joy of Love, “The Bible is full of families, births, love stories and family crises. This is true from its very first page, with the appearance of Adam and Eve’s family … to its very last page, where we behold the wedding feast of the Bride and the Lamb” (8). Later in his document he proclaims that the “Gospel of the family spans the history of the world, from the creation of man and woman in the image and likeness of God to the fulfillment of the mystery of the covenant in Christ at the end of time with the marriage of the Lamb” (63).
As Pope Francis declares elsewhere: “We, the women and men of the Church, we are in the middle of a love story: each of us is a link in this chain of love. And if we do not understand this, we have understood nothing of what the Church is” (April 24, 2013). In The Joy of Love, Francis makes it abundantly clear what kind of love story this is.