A reflection on this Sunday’s Mass by Sr Kym Harris osb and downloaded from http://www.prayasyoucan.com.au
This is not an easy Gospel to write on. Many hearing or reading it could think that it does not apply to them as they are widowed, unmarried, celibate, rejected, deserted or even divorced. That is quite a swathe of people. But it still does speak to us, to all of us. It tells us that long-term loving relationships are integral to our development as persons.
I recently watched the movie The Way and while it received rave reviews I was profoundly disappointed with the ending. While the central character Tom did need to learn to embrace life and allow it to form him, I question whether becoming a traveller of the world would actually bring him to a rich deep life – who would he love? Who would challenge and form him radically on a daily basis? For it is in the deep bonds of love that we are formed as persons. And, as antithetical as this is to the popular notion of romance, this usually happens in ordinary mundane situations devoid of glamour or excitement.
The Bridges of Madison County is a movie with a very different ending. Romance here does not trump everything. It is not the high road to self-fulfilment justifying abandonment. After her four day affair, Francesca is profoundly tempted to abandon her family and leave with Robert, the lover who has brought her so much joy. But she does not because her husband, her boring husband, is a good man and doesn’t deserve this. And what would it teach her 16 year-old daughter about love? After her death, her children discover the true stature of the woman who was their mother.
Harriet Goldher Lerner in her book The Dance of Anger gives a definition of ‘intimacy’: maintaining a relationship over the long haul. As we do that, our strengths and weaknesses are revealed, as are those of the other in the relationship. In dealing with each other, we necessarily change. As we chose to grow in love, we are transformed. As we chose to remain in that delicate and difficult dance, we will discover that we have entered into the Kingdom of God.