We live in a world today that hates us as Christians, but most especially as Catholics. It is launching a vile and backhanded assault against "the Vatican" and against our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI. In so doing, they are assaulting us all for we as Catholics are in solidarity with all who suffer injustice. In our innocence, we partake in the sufferings of those who were abused. In our own guilt, we partake in the divine justice that is owed to the men (and women) in the Church who have abused others. In the mystical reality of our identity as the Bride of Christ, the Mystical Body with Christ as our head, we must enter into and suffer His own Passion. We are one with Christ, and cannot be separated from Him.
I have heard and seen others, in America and abroad, who have expressed that they are "shaken" by these revelations of sin and debauchery in Ireland and Germany (especially given what has happened here). Sadly, I am not shaken at all. I am saddened. I am angry. I am beyond emotion. But I am not shocked, and I am not shaken.
We have to recall that God does not reveal sin without revealing His mercy. In this season of Lent, as we enter Holy week, it is fitting that the Church as a whole suffer to her very soul for the sins committed in her name, and perhaps with her seeming acquiescence. It is fitting that such horrifying sin has been revealed, for now it can be purged. We enter Holy Week in humiliation, even we who are innocent. We hear once again the banshee cries directed toward all priests, most especially our Holy Father, screaming, "CRUCIFY HIM! CRUCIFY HIM!" We shudder deep within ourselves, perhaps wanting to look away, but knowing we cannot.
We look into the eyes of the guilty and innocent alike and find ourselves reflected there, part and parcel of both the bad and the good of our human nature.
We walk the road to Calvary with our Savior, knowing why He became Incarnate and went to the Cross to save us from our sins. We offer ourselves in union with Him, to be ridiculed, to be scourged, and ultimately, to be crucified. Unless we accompany Christ along the via dolorosa, we cannot rise with Him in the Resurrection, knowing the full revelation of His Mercy.
Mk 4:35-40 35 On that day, as evening drew on, he said to them, "Let us cross to the other side." 36 Leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat just as he was. And other boats were with him.37 A violent squall came up and waves were breaking over the boat, so that it was already filling up. 38 Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion. They woke him and said to him, "Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?" 39 He woke up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, "Quiet! Be still!" The wind ceased and there was great calm. 40 Then he asked them, "Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?"
This parable has relevance to our time. If you recall from scriptures, Jesus was always getting into a boat with the disciples and going somewhere, so we recognize this image as a reflection of the Church buffeted about in the world.
We are now those disciples in the boat with Christ as the "violent squall" of an insanely violent media attacks relentlessly, as money-grubbing attorneys with no interest in anyone's soul, much less his own, seeks to bring down the Annointed of Christ himself, seeking hard to find guilt where there is only innocence. In response, we, the faithful, are filling the chapels and churches, we are praying in our homes and in all places, at all times. If we are "shaken" it means that we think Jesus is sleeping and cannot hear our cries. For some, the scandals may well rattle their faith, yet they are in good company, for did not the Apostles (but for John) flee also when confronted by the violence and accusations of the crowd?
Sounds a lot like the Passion of Our Lord, doesn't it?
We should not be shaken in these times. We should recognize that Christ does not sleep among us, but has sent the Holy Spirit to guide the Church through every storm of every century, and will not fail us now. Christ himself has not abandoned us; He is with us and calls US to be even more united with Him in His suffering for the salvation of sinners. We must pray, we must do penance, and we must, in absolute faith, embrace the Passion of Christ and in so doing, come to understand the full revelation of His saving power through the exercise of Divine Justice, Divine Mercy, and Divine Love in the folly and the glory of the Cross.
Today, the antiphon of Morning Prayer reminds us: "Jesus said: my heart is nearly broken with sorrow; stay here and keep watch with me."
The Office of Readings today is from Hebrews 10:39 exhorting us: "We are not among those who draw back and perish, but among those who have faith and live."
Today, Monday of Holy Week, we are called to courage, called to "set our faces like flint" and remember that we, too, must be crucified with Christ. We are waiting and we are watching. We are called to have faith....and live.