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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

On Love and Despair

Last night I had the amazing opportunity to celebrate mass with our priest and our Junior and Senior High Faith Formation classes. We had what is often called a "card table Mass" since we celebrated Mass in our Gymnasium. It was really everything I could have asked for. The students were mostly polite and engaged, good music, awesome message, great student involvement in ministries and of course Jesus was present! At the end of mass where "announcements" would usually go we had a prepared reflection about the wisdom of Solomon.
One of the most famous stories of Solomon's wisdom comes from first Kings Chapter 3 in the Bible, and tells of two women who came to Solomon asking him to solve their problem. The two women lived in the same house, both had given birth to babies within days of each other, and now one of the babies had died. Now both women were claiming that the baby that was still alive was their child. King Solomon asked one of his servants to bring him a sword. When the sword was brought to him he said, "Now, cut the live baby into two pieces and give each woman half."
One woman said, "No, please, my master, do not kill the baby. Give it to this woman." The other woman said, "Yes, cut the baby in two. Then neither of us will have him." King Solomon said, "Give the baby to the first woman because she is the real mother."
God gave wisdom to Solomon to make right decisions. God will give us wisdom and many other gifts if we only ask Him to.
As a child, hearing this story of Solomon always made me think "Wow, what a clever way to solve a problem." I never really had a reason to go back and look at the passage as an adult. (I will admit my Bible reading has been lax lately) As an adult my interpretation of this story is vastly different, rather than Solomon, I focus on the women.

Their babies we know were about the same age, must have been the same gender and still very young. If they were still very young and the one baby had recently died, both mothers still had the opportunity to nurse and care for the baby as if it were their own. Both women love their children but are going through a very traumatic time in their lives.

The first woman is clearly the voice of love. Love is self sacrificial in nature and would rather see the best of the other over fulfilling their needs. She would love her own child to the point of giving him up to see him live. She would also have the opportunity to still watch him grow and celebrate his milestones with him since they would live in the same home.

The second woman shows us the dangers of despair. Under the supposition we made above, their children are still relatively young. She has had the opportunity to see her child alive, hold him, nurse him and love him. Her response of "Yes, cut the baby in two. Then neither of us will have him." is not a response of hate but extreme loss and pain. Pain causes us to do uncharacteristic things. If they have both have been caring for the child as their own, she clearly cares for the child, but pain has blinded her saying, "If I can't have something, neither should anyone else."

The second woman's response is something I fight with often. It could be when a friend announces they are expecting, "Well why haven't we gotten pregnant yet?", when plans seem to always fall through, "It wasn't going to be that fun anyway", or when I'm just in a big blue funk, "If I can't enjoy this, no one can." I hope I'm not the only one who has battled with these thoughts. The important thing is that I don't get bogged down by them.