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January 31, 1992     The Message
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JUary 31, 1992 The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana Commentary 5  Ma:;s Readil,9 By FA EHER DONALD D|LGER GOspel Commentary for Sunday, Feb. 2, 992, Presentation of the Lord, Cycle C: Luke 2:22.40 0nl,.Ahhough today's liturgical celebration refers t y to the presentation of Jesus in the temple, ;e gospel reading used for this occasion speaks ../so of the purification of Mary. Luke begins his arrative with the words" "When it was time for HEIR u ..... a- P rlficahon .... Now Luke is not always 0C, ur.ately informed about the religious customs ,.'JUClaism. When he speaks of "THEIR" purifica: .We do not know what he's talking about. ,telthr the newborn child nor the husband were io e subjects of some purification ritual, only the ther of the newborn child If the child was a [3 , . , " . -.,,etY the purlflcahon ritual took place, on the fortl- day?ay after birth, for a girl on the sixty-sixth D The purification law is found in Leviticus C:i: 5: "If a woman conceives and bears a MALE oll ' then she shall be unclean seven days. And s^ta, e eighth day he shall be circumcised. Then ,'.:.Sh.all continue for 33 days in the blood of her htylng. She shah not touch any hallowed 0f')g, nor come into the sanctuary, until the days er purifying are completed But if she bears a [.ALE c'hild then'she shall De unclean two we ,  re- ks and continue in the blood of her purifying .r t6 days ". . ren s of brou ht t Luke writes that the na t Jesus ,1 . g [ ) !o the temple "to present him to the Lord." [ fi'LLaw of Moses states: "Consecrate to me the | Uorn. Whatever is the first to open the womb [ _ Dog the Deonle of Israel, both of man and of Iis mine. For wh'en Pharaoh stubbornly re- Purification of Mary: Presentation of Jesus in the temple fused to let us go, the Lord killed all the firstborn in the land of Egypt." The firstborn was origi- nally expected to spend his life in the service of the Lord. Later the tribe of Levi took over this function and the firstborn of the other Israelite tribes was "redeemed," i.e. bought back by the parents through a ransom payment of five shekels of silver at the sanctuary. Before we attempt to explain Luke's purpose for including the purification and presentation in his gospel (no other gospel does!J, we may draw an interesting conclusion. Theologians and Catholic tradition have long affirmed the perpet- ual virginity of Mary, i.e. before, during and after the birth of Jesus. Virginity during and after his birth excludes sexual contact with a man. But what about during birth? The theological expla- nation was that during the birth of Jesus nothing could be broken or ruptured so as to cause the flow or loss of blood. This may seem odd to us but it was the flow or loss of blood that in an- cient times was considered to cause "impurity." Theological claims that Mary must be free of any "impurity" led to some rather wierd explana- tions of how the baby Jesus exited from Mary. The most striking theory was that he slipped out from under her kneecap. Leaving such nonsense aside let us say that Jesus was born like anyone else and that no one can use the Gospel of Luke to affirm the virginity of Mary "DURING" Jesus' birth as explained above. Besides, Luke applies these words to Jesus: "Every male that OPENS THE WOMB shall be called holy to the Lord. Luke's story of "THEIR" purification and of Jesus' presentation is a confusion of two customs that is tortunately not evident to most readers. Only scholars have to make a case out of the problems Luke has left us. We know that Luke brought Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem for Jesus' birth by using a census that he either invented or used the census of 6 A.D. when Jesus was about 10 years old. In today's gospel reading he con- fuses various customs and laws of first century Judaism. In both instances, the birth of Jesus and the purification-presentation narrative, we may conclude that his interest is not historical accu- racy but the moral and theological guidance of his Christian community. What is Luke teaching by the purification- presentation? Throughout the first two chapters, "The Infancy Gospel," Luke has presented his actors as examples to his Christian community. They are described as keeping the law of the Lord. Mary and Joseph, Zechariah and Elizabeth, Simeon and Anna, all lived a devout life "ac- cording to the law." Luke tells his Christians: "You are to do the same." That is one point. An- other is that Luke uses this story to point out to his Gentile-Christian community that the salva- tion Jesus brings is not only to the Jews but also to the Gentiles. Luke's community was made up of converts from paganism and so he had to speak to that issue. Therefore he places these words into the mouth of Simeon: "My eyes have seen your salvation which you have prepared for ALL PEOPLES, a light for revelation TO THE GENTILES and the glory of your people Israel." Other readings : Malachy 3:1-4; Hebrews 2:14o18. Family leave bill may be blocked by special interests I].YANNWADELTON crucial to low-income work- those companies with 20 or increase in the labor force Does the public support nlanaCatholic Conference ers who are most vulneralbe more employees, exempting since 1979," said Ryan. "Over family leave? Four polls con- ra 0l. Ployees caught between t' "'and ' )Ss ,.. family responsibili- rratl uld get some help lr' - ae Family Leave bill  b ....  oeen approved 59- 1,,7 Uae Indiana House of Iei::tatives. Supporters ls at the Senate would ap . prove the bill, but the v y reve Y ,te b- r get a chance to lt^ Cause stron business i '..ts,in the leadership are r ,usltion to block action Y%r nat happened last heabaill, HB 1181, would lth, . Unpaid leave for the s adoption o . " " 1t s of a r serious fll !aess o child or the sermus tre e ,. a parent or snouse tit ,..mP lOyee, s ,h ,.R " ',!d be protecte'l . .... - mUy Leave is especially I.G.A. FTy HOUSEWIFE'S OF SAVINGS" ODS AND MEATS rtingburg and Oakland City & KLUESNER HOME Chapel, 214 E. 7th 33rd Newton at times of illness and in- jury," Indiana Catholic Con- ference director, Dr. M. Desmond Ryan said in com- mittee testimony. "Those who lose their jobs due to ill- ness of self or children risk debt, destitution and home- lessness," he said. Citing Cen- sus Bureau data, Ryan said there is a positive correlation between low-income and low-education workers and a lack of job guarantee. Responding to a critic's charge that the bill is one- sided against business, Rep. Brad Fox (R-Rome City) said, "It's w'ry one-sided. It's one- sided in favor of the family and I don't see anything wrong with that." To spare small businesses, the bill would affect only KREMPP LUMBER CO. WHOLESALE BUILDING MATERIAL DIS- TRIBUTION & GENERAL CONTRACTING YARD CONSTRUCTION 482-1961 482-6939 JASPER LUMBER CO. COMPLETE BUILDING SERVICE Ph: 482-1125 RT. 4, JASPER 87 percent of Indiana's busi- nesses. However, Rep. John Day (D-Indianapolis), a long- time supporter of Family Leave, cited a Small Business Administration (SMA) study that found that Family Leave was not costly, even to small businesses, and helped rather than harmed them. Overall, findings of the SMA study, he said, demonstrate that em- ployers have sufficient flexi- bility to adjust to leave-taking absences in cost-effective ways. Family leave is a top prior- ity issue for the Indiana Catholic Conference. It is im- portant at this time, said Ryan, because of the large number of women in the per- manent workforce. "Women account for 62 percent of the half of women with children under age one, are working outside their homes; 85 per- cent will become pregnant during their working years and 25 percent are the sole support for themselves and their families." The effect is on the stability of family life, said Ryan. The person who has played the nuturing role in the home is now in the workforce. This is true, not only in considering care of cbildren, but also for aging parents. Family leave would allow either husband or wife to take time to handle such family emergencies. Only the United States and South Africa, among industri- alized nations, do not have a family-leave policy. In many countries, the leave is paid. Metal Roofing Less $2.00 sq. - Over 20,000 Sq. in stock $19.95 & up Roof Truss Rafters Less 10% g x 7 INSULATED GARAGE DOORS $199.95 ea (Over 300 Garage Doors In Stock) llus (let 2nd Transmitter FREE when you buy a garage door operator with door. STEEL ENTRY. DOORS $89.95 32" x 36" Embossed Prehung -- Over 500 In Stock Insnlated Windows $35.00 extra plus Great Prices On Hundreds Of Other Building Items Such As Lumber Poles, Windows, Shingles, Insulation, Vinyl Siding, Insulated Drywall, Etc. DAVIESS COUNTY BLDG. SUPPLY Hwy. 50 E. Cannelburg * 4 Mi. E. of Montgomery * (812) 295-5770 ducted since 1987, show overwhelming support. The Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll ('90) showed 71 percent support. Gallup Orga- nization ('90) showed 81 per- cent support. The Polling Re- port ('87) showed that 84 percent think such legislation would help companies retain good employees and 82 per- cent believe that parental leave is necessary to provide families with stability and economic security. A Louis Harris poll ('89) showed strong support in all regions of the country with 84 per- cent support in the midwest. Four Catholics are among the bill's sponsors: Rep. Thomas Kromkowski (D- South Bend), Rep. John Day (D-Indianapolis), Sen. Sue Landske (R-Cedar Lake) and Sen, Robert Hellmann (D- Terre Haute), Other sponsors include Rep. Brad Fox (R- Rome City) and Rep. Robert Hayes (D-Columbus). KNOX COUNTY SEED COMPANY VINCENNES American National Bank Bicknell - Sandborn Vincennes Drive-in Facilities - Member F.D.I.C. A Full Service Bank