Written December 26, 2023, at Alma, Colorado.
This last week I happened upon a post written by a minister. It vilified as a betrayal of Christ the permission given by Pope Francis to Catholic priests to grant blessings to same sex couples. The post troubled me. Why the outrage? What is the harm in such a “blessing”? Was this minister really speaking in defense of Christ or just disguising his own prejudice? Would Christ, who favored love over all else, have been offended by such blessings?
I had encountered this minister years ago when his assignment included ministering to inmates on death row. It occurred to me that his calling included bestowing blessings upon society’s worst criminals, those convicted of taking the life of another in cold blood. Why then the rejection of two people who do nothing worse than profess their committed love for one another.
Does any human, by the act of granting a “blessing”, bind the hand of God? If so, then the Creator of the Universe is subservient to the will of man. Alternatively, if the favor of the Creator is exclusively the Creator’s to grant, then the act of granting a “blessing” is just a human gift of acceptance and a wish in favor of the recipient.
Tradition, dating back beyond written history, found recognition in the practice of “blessing” not only people but inanimate objects. In modern times it is commonplace to “bless” farm fields, crops, animals, food, houses, buildings… our bicycles in 2010, and before a church congregation in 2013 our backpacks were blessed (along with us) as Christine and I prepared to walk the Camino de Santiago in Spain. What is the purpose of “blessing” soulless objects? Perhaps it is a petition that these things may better serve us and our purposes.
The “blessing” of ships, civilian or military, is ancient and commonly accepted. Earlier this month in Pascagoula, Mississippi, the Naval assault ship USS Bougainville was christened with the words, “God bless this ship and all who sail on her!”
Which brings me to the biblical Christ who was a spokesperson for the poor, hungry, powerless, and marginalized. He spoke against oppression in every form but never against love. He said that the second of the two greatest of God’s Commandments was to love one’s neighbor as oneself. Christ further declared that those who live by the sword shall die by the sword.
It is likely that Christ would have chosen to confer blessing upon companions professing their love and not on a warship. The former is the model of one of the two greatest Commandments, and the latter is a very large and lethal 21st Century sword.
Peace Everyone. Pete