Ok, I promised a tale about why all Christian countries have hero tales, almost uniquely male savior themes. I then realized that I sold God short. Paul states: “For the invisible things of him (God), from the creation of the world, are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made; his eternal power also, and divinity” (Rom 1:20.) Meaning: natural existence, the world, natural law, order originating out of chaos, etc… all relates the existence of God, his power and his divinity. So by narrowing the field only to Christian hero tales, I sold God short, because he is always revealing himself to us; whether we choose to see it or not is our choice.
Some disclosure before preceeding: First, I can only genuinely speak to my culture. I have been exposed to many cultures, but I can not pretend to know their intricacies. Second, when I say all I mean all without distinction, not all without exception. I can’t possibly know everything, and quite often I wonder if I know everything.
Most cultures have male heroes (Beowulf, Odysseus, Gilgamesh, Osiris). Most religions have male heroes (Jesus, Joseph Smith, Krishna, Mohammed) Even, biologically speaking, males are (generally, not always) stronger from a one on one standpoint and historically seen as hierarchical enforcers. On a macro level male heroes seem to be a universal truth. On a micro level, we were just talking about the “Princess syndrome” and the need/desire to be saved, as a generally female attribute. Or, we all have an immediate reaction to the phrase “knight in shining armor.” I certainly don’t mean to say that the reaction is necessarily positive, but this is a phrase with which we are familiar. Whether our reaction is positive or negative, it is a strong reaction, meaning this has a palpable reality to us.
Men, on the other hand, always seem to want to fix things. I say: “Gah, I hate that the trash is full.” My husband replies: “Is that your way of letting me know I need to take the trash out?” And you know what, maybe I do want him to fix it! So this macro level axiom also appears to be a micro level axiom as well. We are all taken with choosing partners because we genuinely want assistance! Taking Paul into consideration, we may then assume that there is something to this male savior thing. Women desiring to be saved, maybe just even helped; men desiring to save, maybe just even help… mostly save. (It is far more gallant.)
In church, as in the home, we have gender specific roles. There are sacramental times wherein a priest is acting in persona Christi or offers the guidance of spiritual fatherhood. The congregation, along with the priest in the Liturgy, acts in the role of the female, awaiting the Eucharist (which many church fathers saw as an immediate parousia.) On one hand the priest offers the Liturgy on behalf of the people and speaks the words invoking the Holy Spirit; this is a decidedly male role in persona Christi. On the other hand, we know it is the Holy Spirit who transforms the offering into the Eucharist and we all await it together. Is it really such a leap then to see why we have this “knight in shining armor” complex??? Even though the priest offers the sacrifice, as the Bride/Body of Christ, we all need saving!
It is fascinating to see the continuance in our Advent season, surrounded by the harvest imagery of the Day of the Lord, from the feast of Yom Kippur, which is also an autumn festival. On the feast of Yom Kippur the high priest (and only on Yom Kippur) entered into the Holy of Holies to offer incense and blood as an atonement for sins (Lev 16:11-17; Heb 9:7.) But the much anticipated return of the high priest from the Holy of Holies signified the acceptance of the offering of the high priest. When he returns, he returns in splendor, imaging the bridegroom (Sirach 50:1-17.)
This is what we celebrate in Mass every Sunday, the offering up of Christ to the Father, in the Eucharist. This is not a new offering but a communion with the once for all sacrifice, that Christ is currently offering on our behalf (Heb 9:11-12; 24-26; Rev 5:6.) He returned to the Father, where he is offering himself in the Holiest of Holies in atonement for us. All we await is his return in splendor (2Pet 3:10-13; Psa 24), as the bridegroom, for the eternal Supper of the Lamb (Rev 19:11-13)!