Maybe I don’t, but I want to apologize for being gone this summer. These next two weeks I’ll be gone during the week to help out with Camp Summit. Our parish is going week 2 (August 1-4), but I will also being helping out with week 1 (July 25-28). I wish more of our kids would go to Camp Summit. It is a great way for our junior high kids to experience some time away from home in an environment that encourages the beauty of the Mass, the connection one can feel with Jesus during Eucharistic Adoration, the power of forgiveness in the Sacrament of Reconciliation all while having fun, full packed days of climbing walls, doing archery, high ropes courses, and other great activities.
I was at a convent and during the Mass where we usually say, “May Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands for the praise and glory of his name, for our good and the good of all his holy Church,” they replaced all the “his” with “God.” Theologically, this is not wrong. However, it does beg the question, “Why do we usually refer to God in the masculine?” The short answer is because Jesus told us to. In the Gospel, the disciples ask Jesus how to pray. Jesus responds by saying, “When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name…” You could also talk about this from the point of view of the Theology of the Body. In the marital act, life literally goes out from the potential father and received by potential mother. In this moment, it is the potential father that gives and the potential mother that receives. We know from the Bible that God first loved us. God is first giver of love and we are first receivers of love. In this way God is more like a father than a mother.
Before all this, we need to ask, “Is God male or female?” The answer is “neither.” We are made in God’s image; not God in our image. God is neither male or female. In the Theology of the Body, Saint Pope John Paul proposes that we are made in the image and likeness of God as male and female because God is a Trinity of Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. As I have mentioned in homilies before, God the Father perfectly loves God the Son. God the Son perfectly receives that love and then perfectly loves God the Father back. This exchange of love is so perfect It is the third Person of the Trinity, God the Holy Spirit. Just as husband gives love in the martial act and the wife receives love in the marital act and loves her husband back and he receives her love, nine months later they may have to give their love a name.
The Church is always referred to in the feminine. God first loves us. We first receive God’s love as His followers.
Being male and female is not something that can change based on how we feel. It is something stamped not just into our bodies, but into our souls. Being male and female is not something arbitrary, but a gift from God so that we can better understand who we are (as male and female), but in light of who God is as Trinity. We need holy masculinity and holy femininity in the world today in a desperate way. We need both. I pray we live this out.