Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Naked and Unashamed Before God

By Beth DeCristofaro

The LORD God said: "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a suitable partner for him." … The man and his wife were both naked, yet they felt no shame. (Genesis 2:18, 25)

The woman was a Greek, a Syrophoenician by birth, and she begged (Jesus) to drive the demon out of her daughter. He said to her, "Let the children be fed first. For it is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs." She replied and said to him, "Lord, even the dogs under the table eat the children's scraps." Then he said to her, "For saying this, you may go. The demon has gone out of your daughter." (Mark 7:26-30)

Humbly welcome the word that has been planted in you and is able to save your souls. (Jas 1:21, from the Mass for the Day)

Still almost-newlyweds, my husband and I moved into a neighborhood with similar young couples, first-time homeowners beginning their families.  When he arrived home from work one hot, summer afternoon he was greeted with a loud “Hey, Tony, Hey Tony!”  as he got out of his car in our driveway.  Two doors down one of the first little girls to be born on our street was standing in her driveway, buck naked, waving proudly at her big friend.  “Tony!” she yelled with pride, “I don’t have any clothes on!”  My husband replied kindly to the 3-yr old, “I see, Janie, I see you don’t have clothes on.” And laughed about the incident for years.  Janie today is married with her own infant son.

It doesn’t take us long, however, to begin to feel shame instead of the exuberance of running naked – children of God - under the sun.  Adam and Eve felt shame when they realized themselves and their own sinfulness.  God did not even have to confront them.  This Greek woman most likely felt shame at the illness of her daughter and at speaking to a Jewish man which was strictly forbidden.  But it did not stop her from asking, in blind trust, for help.  She received God’s mercy and her daughter received healing.

In our culture not only is nudity shameful (even exhibitionist nudity) but so is asking for help, perceived weakness, being wrong, poverty and even flight from danger or hardship.  In the Genesis story, God realized that Adam needed a partner and beautifully created not only a soulmate but originated relationship and community which are vital to human life.  God did not angst about getting something wrong! God strengthened an already awesome creation which we are able to do within our own limitations by trusting God.  

Many of the values of a graced life which Jesus outlined in the Beatitudes are somehow shameful in much of modern, Western culture.  How easy it is to pretend that we are not naked, that is wholly known by God.  Yet at the same time we think we know others’ naked sins.  Today do not question another’s motives or how deserving they are.  Treat her/him as if an honored guest at your table.  In fact, you are guests together at God’s table already.   

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