A Penitent Blogger

Mindful of my imperfections, seeking to know Truth more deeply and to live Love more fully.

Quid sum miser tunc dicturus? Quem patronum rogaturus? Cum vix iustus sit securus?
Recordare, Iesu pie, Quod sum causa tuae viae: Ne me perdas illa die...

Friday, July 06, 2007

A serious detail

Today’s first reading excerpts two full chapters of the book of Genesis (23:1-4, 19; 24:1-8, 62-67), quickly taking us from the death of Sarah to the marriage of Isaac. Even in these excerpts, however, we have enough detail to puzzle a casual reader, most especially this instruction given by Abraham to his steward (when Abraham was well over a hundred years old):

Put your hand under my thigh,
and I will make you swear by the LORD...


The meaning of this solemn action is somewhat obscure. There is not as much evidence as one might think to relate it to the etymology of the word “testify”, but there certainly seems to be a link of meaning here between procreative power and commitment.

To be sure, the mores of Abraham and his contemporaries were not always the most exemplary (e.g., his wife convinces him to sleep with the maid), but the symbolic action of today’s reading reminds us of the seriousness with which procreative power and its physiology have been regarded.

In modern culture, of course, the physiology associated with the transmission of human life is something to be used or even rearranged for selfish purposes.

This has led to the destruction of relationships, the cheapening of intimacy, the transmission of disease, and the use of the most innocent human beings as commodities for scientific or personal convenience.

Perhaps we should take the physiology and the power of procreation more seriously, as the sacred and joyful gifts of God that they are.