The latest outrage in the media over two women who profess to be comedians has me very disappointed, frustrated, and sad. I could be angry with them both for exhibiting their racist and misogynistic tendencies. But I guess I’m just exhausted.
My genuine initial reaction to Roseanne and Samantha Bee’s remarks against other human beings was a literal cringe of disgust. And then my own disbelief that anyone could say things like that about someone else, never mind think it in the first place, and then unbelievably consider it humor.
It seems that for the past couple of years humor has become more about anger and ad hominem attacks filled with hate for the object of the “joke.” How did that happen? Why is anyone laughing? How does the comedian conceive of these terrible remarks that are meant to only demean others? That’s when my sadness sets in.
Today’s Gospel reading in the liturgical year is about Jesus’ mother, Mary, visiting her cousin, Elizabeth, whom she has just learned is also with child. It was a delightful surprise as Elizabeth was thought to be past childbearing age and had never conceived before. But, in the words of the angel of the Lord who announced the pregnancy to Mary, “nothing is impossible for God.”
I mention that here because I was struck this morning at the vivid contrast between these four women. Similar in that they are all female and that they are all are known by their first names more than any other: Roseanne, Samantha Bee, Elizabeth, and Mary. I don’t want to discuss the use of vulgarity that immediately sends words to a base and destructive place. But I will say that the two modern women are very good at casting stones at others and making terrible, disgusting comments about their contemporaries.
The two women of the Gospel are nothing but loving and joyful with one another. They relate everything in their lives to their Creator who loved them and all creation into being. There is no thought of condemning others for they don’t view themselves as any better, or any less, than anyone else.
I have seen an amazing painting of Mary and Elizabeth laughing when they meet in the Gospel account. The elder woman is leaning forward, gently caressing Mary’s ‘baby bump’ with her aging hands. And Mary’s head is thrown back as she is obviously laughing with joy and gratitude. Elizabeth has most probably just informed Mary about how John, in her womb, “leaped with joy” when the bearer of the Christ came near. It’s a beautiful modern painting available on Etsy! I can’t share it here as it is copyrighted. Here’s the link. https://www.etsy.com/listing/54758766/jump-for-joy-mary-and-elizabeth if you’d like to see it.
I so appreciate this painting of a beautiful, intimate moment between two humble, happy women. I realize it isn’t fair to compare the two women in this Biblical scene from today’s prescribed liturgical reading with the two who were in the media and separately making their uncharitable comments yesterday. But when I woke up to all their words and circumstances this morning, it was very obvious that we need more charity in our social encounters in 2018 and beyond. We have for a while now.
I think it’s time to try having a constructive, honest conversation with one another. You can tell me what you believe and I will listen respectfully and try to understand. Then I can share my thoughts and you will try to hear what I’m saying and respect that, too. And maybe we can all, who abhor racism and sexism and all sorts of other vile things, speak about the dignity and the worth of every human being because they are our brothers and sisters, loved into being by a God of mercy who cares for each of us as if there were only one of us.
Maybe we can rejoice as we work together to be the Lord’s hands and feet to lift up our neighbors who are suffering. No matter if it’s hunger or injustice or wounds of any kind, we could try loving and working together for good, instead of hating and tearing each other to pieces.
That’s my prayer. I hope that we can ask for everyone’s hearts to be softened so that we can see it’s the better way. I want us to smile with joy at the people we encounter, not scowl in hatred. A respect and honor for everyone is what will make the world a better place. That’s the job of the people of God. And it could happen! Recall the words of the archangel, Gabriel: “Nothing is impossible for God.”