Or should I say “Goddess?” As the horrors of the priest sex abuse scandal continue to make headlines I can’t help but celebrate the truths finally being made known. I’ve seen the horrors first-hand (I’m not only speaking about sexual abuse!) and it is only right that the sins of the Institution be made known and that the hierarchy be held accountable to the grievous harm they have inflicted on humanity for thousands of years. I suspect (hope) that this current wave of truth-telling marks the end of the priesthood as we have known it and the end of the patriarchal/hierarchical structure built on fear, power and control. The Divine (by whatever name we call Her) is CLEANING HOUSE! Amen! Amen! Halleluiah! (Cue Handel:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=usfiAsWR4qU )
In light of all of this, I found it hilarious (God has a great sense of humor…..or is it timing?) that this reading came up in my daily scripture feed this morning:
The word of the Lord came to me:
Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel,
in these words prophesy to them to the shepherds:
Thus says the Lord GOD: Woe to the shepherds of Israel
who have been pasturing themselves!
Should not shepherds, rather, pasture sheep?
You have fed off their milk, worn their wool,
and slaughtered the fatlings,
but the sheep you have not pastured.
You did not strengthen the weak nor heal the sick
nor bind up the injured.
You did not bring back the strayed nor seek the lost,
but you lorded it over them harshly and brutally.
So they were scattered for the lack of a shepherd,
and became food for all the wild beasts.
My sheep were scattered
and wandered over all the mountains and high hills;
my sheep were scattered over the whole earth,
with no one to look after them or to search for them.
Therefore, shepherds, hear the word of the LORD:
As I live, says the Lord GOD,
because my sheep have been given over to pillage,
and because my sheep have become food for every wild beast,
for lack of a shepherd;
because my shepherds did not look after my sheep,
but pastured themselves and did not pasture my sheep;
because of this, shepherds, hear the word of the LORD:
Thus says the Lord GOD:
I swear I am coming against these shepherds.
I will claim my sheep from them
and put a stop to their shepherding my sheep
so that they may no longer pasture themselves.
I will save my sheep,
that they may no longer be food for their mouths.
For thus says the Lord GOD:
I myself will look after and tend my sheep.
EZ 34: 1-11
What was true for Ezekiel (622 BCE) is true for us today. The “shepherds” (priests) have sinned against their people and against their God. They have brought harm upon the people of the flock (us) and the Divine says NO MORE! The truth is coming to light and as God said to Ezekiel, “I myself will look after and tend my sheep.” What need have we for human shepherds (priests) when we have God/dess to guide us? As Jesus chose God over the institution and his disciples did the same, this is the invitation we are currently being given as the outside perceived authority of institutional religion (here symbolized by the Catholic Church) comes crashing down around our feet.
As I have come to know in my own journey, we do not need an outside perceived authority (the Church) when the only true authority is the Divine within. This is the truth Jesus came to know and what he then went on to teach his followers. Mary Magdalene got this and held true to the Divine within. The male disciples had to re-learn this truth after getting expelled from the Temple, and then somehow forgot this along the way when they appointed themselves “Bishops” and “Priests.” But as I have said a million times over, “God/Love always wins!” She is reclaiming what is hers; casting out all those who did not heed Her words and who did not care for Her people and inviting all of us to return to the only “Church” we will ever truly need – the “Church” that is in our own heart where we are One with the Divine (Love) that dwells within.
P.S. If you don’t yet know that “Church” within, I am happy to help you find it.