God bless inoffensive people. I can’t even imagine what it is like to be one.
I remember one trip to a Catholic bookstore during which the clerk went out of her way to thank me for everything I did. When she thanked me for asking to be rung up, I finally laughed and said “well my only other option was to walk out of the store with the books”. My laughter was cut short by the horrified look on her face and the vibe from all of the workers there that I had violated some rule of Catholicism that I hadn’t known existed: Thou Shalt Be Saccharine.
Today’s lectionary readings are short but rich. I always lament to hear the first reading whitewashed: seduxisti me Domine et seductus sum. As much as I like the sound of the word “Duped”, as they translate seductus, I would rather hear the passion in Jeremiah’s voice telling God “You seduced me, and I let myself be seduced”. How much stronger would the end of the reading be if read in the shadow of seduction? I say to myself, I will not mention him, I will speak in his name no more. But then it becomes like fire burning in my heart, imprisoned in my bones; I grow weary holding it in, I cannot endure it.
In the second reading from Romans we are urged to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice. Our whole selves, top to toe, are worthy of being offered to God as part of our worship. The goal is not to play dead, or stay still, or wait it out until we get to the “real” life of faith, but to be magnificently alive, transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.
God seduced me and I let myself be seduced. With all due respect to my inoffensive friends at the Catholic bookstore, that’s the story I have to tell, that’s the reality that inspires me to take up my cross, to discern the will of God, to pray for the bravery to lose my life in order to find it.
The Glory of God is the human being fully alive – St Irenaeus. I cannot be that living sacrifice unless I am fully alive – a laughing, shouting, hugging, hot-blooded real woman. In the frenzy of life, time and again I have heard the seductive voice of that Love that moves the stars and transforms our hearts and minds, and I have responded with the real me, not some sanitized version that fits the prissy mold of Good Catholic Woman.