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Clutching Our Pearls

Memorial of Saint Aloysius Gonzaga

First Reading: 2 Kings 19:9B-11, 14-21, 31-35A, 36

Sennacherib, king of Assyria, sent envoys to Hezekiah
with this message:
“Thus shall you say to Hezekiah, king of Judah:
‘Do not let your God on whom you rely deceive you
by saying that Jerusalem will not be handed over
to the king of Assyria.
You have heard what the kings of Assyria have done
to all other countries: they doomed them!
Will you, then, be saved?’”

Hezekiah took the letter from the hand of the messengers and read it;
then he went up to the temple of the LORD,
and spreading it out before him,
he prayed in the LORD’s presence:
“O LORD, God of Israel, enthroned upon the cherubim!
You alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth.
You have made the heavens and the earth.
Incline your ear, O LORD, and listen!
Open your eyes, O LORD, and see!
Hear the words of Sennacherib which he sent to taunt the living God.
Truly, O LORD, the kings of Assyria have laid waste the nations
and their lands, and cast their gods into the fire;
they destroyed them because they were not gods,
but the work of human hands, wood and stone.
Therefore, O LORD, our God, save us from the power of this man,
that all the kingdoms of the earth may know
that you alone, O LORD, are God.”

Then Isaiah, son of Amoz, sent this message to Hezekiah:
“Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel,
in answer to your prayer for help against Sennacherib, king of Assyria:
I have listened!
This is the word the LORD has spoken concerning him:

“‘She despises you, laughs you to scorn,
the virgin daughter Zion!
Behind you she wags her head,
daughter Jerusalem.

“‘For out of Jerusalem shall come a remnant,
and from Mount Zion, survivors.
The zeal of the LORD of hosts shall do this.’

“Therefore, thus says the LORD concerning the king of Assyria:
‘He shall not reach this city, nor shoot an arrow at it,
nor come before it with a shield,
nor cast up siege-works against it.
He shall return by the same way he came,
without entering the city, says the LORD.
I will shield and save this city for my own sake,
and for the sake of my servant David.’”

That night the angel of the LORD went forth and struck down
one hundred and eighty-five thousand men in the Assyrian camp.
So Sennacherib, the king of Assyria, broke camp,
and went back home to Nineveh.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 48:2-3AB, 3CD-4, 10-11

R. (see 9d) God upholds his city for ever.
Great is the LORD and wholly to be praised
in the city of our God.
His holy mountain, fairest of heights,
is the joy of all the earth.
R. God upholds his city for ever.
Mount Zion, Athe recesses of the North,”
is the city of the great King.
God is with her castles;
renowned is he as a stronghold.
R. God upholds his city for ever.
O God, we ponder your mercy
within your temple.
As your name, O God, so also your praise
reaches to the ends of the earth.
Of justice your right hand is full.
R. God upholds his city for ever.

Gospel: Matthew 7:6, 12-14

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Do not give what is holy to dogs, or throw your pearls before swine,
lest they trample them underfoot, and turn and tear you to pieces.

“Do to others whatever you would have them do to you.
This is the Law and the Prophets.

“Enter through the narrow gate;
for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction,
and those who enter through it are many.
How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life.
And those who find it are few.”

NAB

DEV_J21

The lie of “the pill” and the sexual revolution is that our sexuality is something we women can use as we like, consequence-free. But it’s easy to get so swept up in the “good old days” misconception that we forget how timeless this thing really is. Certainly, societal norms in the Western world have changed in important and unfortunate ways since the sexual revolution, but the Bible is chock full of stories of fornication and adultery and all that jazz. Misusing the gift of our sexuality is almost as old as sexuality itself.

The temptation has always been there, to throw our pearls before swine. To give in to sweet talk or flattery or the desire for attention. To believe the lie that to wield our sexuality as a tool or a weapon is to empower ourselves.

When nothing could be further from the truth.

This is what Jesus wants to tell us in today’s parables.

Whether we are unmarried women, or divorced or separated women, or happily or unhappily married women . . . we have our pearls. Whether they’re on our necks, clean and pristine, or whether they’ve been thrown down and trampled and gathered back up, they are ours again today. We get to choose what we’ll do with them.

As unmarried women, are we using our beauty to get attention that doesn’t last, that tramples us . . . every time? As married women are we using our sexuality in a way that’s life-giving to our marriages, or as a way to punish and manipulate? Are we letting ourselves and our marriages get torn to pieces over and over again?

This silly, backwards world wants us on the broad road to destruction. But that narrow road, of chastity and abstinence before marriage, and chastity and generosity within marriage, is the road that leads to life. It’s the road that leads to happiness and fulfillment in the next world, but also in this one. It sounds crazy, but it’s true. Pinky promise.

So, let’s clutch those pearls, ladies. We’re worth it.

Are you struggling with negative feelings about yourself and your self-image? Identify if something or someone in particular is pulling you down. Try to move away from that influence and instead surround yourself with supportive and affirming messages.

photo credit

Kendra Tierney lives in Los Angeles, CA where her interests include blogging, homeschooling, looking after her eight children, and fixing up a hundred year old tumbledown mansion. You can find out more about her here.

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