In today's Good Shepherd Gospel, Jesus is saying to each of us: "I have come that you may have life and have it more abundantly." Jesus is the source of our nourishment and it is through personal relationship with Jesus and through the community, the Body of Christ that we experience this fullness.
We can glimpse God's presence in a fuller way now as we explore the feminine awakening in which women and men from different religions and traditions are voicing their truth, claiming their inner authority, turning away from patriarchal values, embracing their spiritual experiences and advocating justice, equality and non-violence for all.
Inclusive language attempts to present a richer, deeper understanding of God, who is always more and beyong human comprehension. The impact of a fuller imaging of God and the naming of this experience empowers, transforms and heals both women and men. This reimagining heals the wounds inflicted on the people of God by overexposure to the distorted male-only God.
As theologian Elzabeth Johnson states that using exclusively male imagery for God reduces God to an idol, justifies patriarchy and implies that women are less like God. "if God is 'she' as well as he, and in face neither, a new possibility can be envisioned of a community that honors difference but allows women and men to share life in equal measure. " (Elizabeth Johnson, Quest for the Living God, pp. 100-101)
It is obvious that part of the reason, the institutional church has such a hostile view to women priests is that the hierarchy does not see women as capable of being "persona Christi", "in the person of Christ" ! Women priests remind us that all women are "persona Christi" by their baptism. (Gal. 3;28, In Christ, there is.... neither male and female... all are one.")
Gender equality is part of the fullness that Jesus promises us in today's Gospel. Since women are created in God's image, our faith communities need to contemplate the feminine face of God in both women and men to grow more whole and holy. Let us continue to live Gospel equality now, loving in the heart of God, and experience the abundant life Christ promised in our worship, community, and service.
Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP