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Sunday, April 04, 2010

What is a Christian?

*Content Warning: this post references a heinous crime against a child and may not be suitable for all readers.*

Tonight, while I sat listening to the multitude of readings at the Easter Vigil, I pondered, as I have been, the sacrifice of Christ. I listened to the story of Creation, the salvation of the Jews, the demise of the Egyptian captors. I prayed and sang the Psalms, and, although I didn't want to, pondered the state of the world.

In the last few days alone, in my metro area, alone, there have been atrocious crimes. I tried to push the thoughts away, but they wouldn't go, so I pondered them with God, letting them in and trying to see them in light of His Sacrifice.  I thought of the mother who was shot to death in front of her young children when her estranged husband rammed her car and then blew her away in spite of the presence of toddlers in car seats. I thought of the report of the oldest child to the police: "Daddy killed Mommy."  

I thought of the man who stabbed his ex-wife 40 times, in front of their children. She hadn't been in fear of him before because, as she'd told the courts when getting an Order for Protection, "He's never done anything crazy. I'm not afraid of him doing something."  Now she's a corpse with 40 horrible wounds and orphan children.

But the worst, the very worst, the story that overcame my thoughts tonight, was a story I read today. A fifteen-year-old girl went to a party in her apartment building with some older men. Not teens. Men.  Her little seven-year-old sister tagged along with her "out of concern for her safety", as the story tells us.

At the party, the teen (15 years old!) starting selling herself for sex with the men who were there, and then began taking money to let the various men there touch her LITTLE SISTER!  HER OWN SISTER!

Judas has NOTHING on this teenager. As I sat at Mass fuming about what horrible set of sins and monstrosities had created this evil 15-year-old who was probably very very abused as a child herself, I read on.

No less than 7 men decided that "touching" wasn't enough. They went on to FORCIBLY RAPE the 7-year-old girl! SEVEN men GANG-RAPED a 7-YEAR-OLD!

Tonight, as I pondered that horrible crime, the consequences spiritually, morally, physically and emotionally for that poor child, I looked over at the child of about that same age that I prepared to be received into the Church this evening. I considered all the children I help to prepare for the Sacraments, and I shuddered so deeply that I'm certain there must have been an earthquake in Hell tonight.

Oh, yes, I was angry. There I was, sitting at the most beautiful, most Sacred Liturgy of the entire year, and all I could think about was the horrible crime visited upon an innocent little girl who went as a pure lamb among wolves spawned by Satan himself.

I didn't want to think about it. I didn't want to ponder it. I tried with all my might to push the thoughts and images away. I prayed for the girl, and for her family, and couldn't bring myself to pray for the monsters who had defiled her with such demonic violence.

I looked up at the Crucifix and wondered at the God who would send his only Son to die for such a worthless race that is humanity. I wondered at the God who could look upon us with any shred of mercy at all. I considered the men who forcibly raped an innocent little girl, a girl who had entered that den out of interest and love for her own sister, and I asked how Jesus could possibly think humanity worth saving? HOW?  I would wash my hands and walk away, leaving them either to themselves to do as they wished or simply destroy them in one fell swoop.  

The last Psalm ended as I was trying hard to recollect myself.

Then I heard, and, trying hard, read along the words of the Epistle for the Easter Vigil:

Rom 6:3-4:
Are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?

I don't think I really heard the rest of the Epistle. I was drawn into those words and captivated there, as though my head was being held under water.  "Are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?"

I was bonded there, chastised, and crucified.  And there, from the gibbet of the Cross, I saw what Jesus sees, I saw the reason for my questions, and I saw the Truth of Divine Justice.

My questions....about the value of humanity, about why Jesus underwent His Passion and Death to save us...those aren't new questions. Not to me, not to anyone.  It isn't that I haven't asked them before, and it isn't that I have not sinned, and horribly, at that. If anything, I  know what I am capable of doing and I have seen much in my professional life. Not much shocks me.

The closer I come to Christ, though, the more my outer shell is worn away, and the more I am able to be shocked by the rancid devastation of sin. The more I am able to see the rot, the more I, in my own fallen humanity, want to take a torch to the trunk and burn it ALL away, leaving nothing.

I do not see as God sees.

I was angry tonight, I was scandalized, and then I heard the Word of God that brought me to bear; I have been baptized in Christ. I have been baptized into His death.

Oh, yes. To be Baptized in Christ means to take on the very same Cross, to drink of the same cup of Salvation. To be Baptized means that we are one with Him and His plan for the Salvation of sinners. To be Baptized means we take on that yoke of suffering; it means that we are giving our fiat to God, and that we, too, are willing to DIE for sinners.

For SINNERS. Even the worst.

Even the sinners who would rape a child. Repeatedly.

Jesus, from eternity, looked upon humanity and called us "good".  Jesus, from eternity, was made incarnate at conception in order to save us from our sins. He looked upon the worst of humanity...and said YES.

God did not gaze upon humanity judging our worthiness by the pettiness of humanity, but by the depths to which we are capable of descending.  He looked upon us and judged us by the greatest atrocities. Jesus looked upon the greatest sins of humanity, sins most people could never even imagine, and in His great love, he looked beyond the sin and saw His Own Image, and He said YES.

Jesus became one of us not because we say snarky things or don't do our chores, but because we are capable of raping children and murdering entire generations of them through abortion and genocide.

God looked at the worst we can do and said, "They are in my image, they are my children and I will die for them in the worst torture known to humanity."

To be Christian, to be Baptized into Christ means to take on that same Cross, and from there, took into the eyes, and the soul, of the most depraved sinner, and say, YES!

To be Christian is to know that no one is beyond salvation, and to know that Christ didn't die for the self-defined righteous, but for sinners, and the worst of sinners at that.

To be Christian is to take on the Cross and, for ourselves, to look especially upon the most depraved of souls and say, "You are a child of God and I am willing to die for your salvation."

We must not just be willing to forgive, but to die the most torturous death for the most depraved of sinners

Nothing less is worthy of a Christian. Nothing less than the ultimate price of Divine Love is worthy of Christ.


me said...

Wow Adore. Possibly the most powerful post I have ever read on blogger! Thanks for posting.

Happy Easter to you. God bless and save us, Amen.

"I will restore the years, the locusts have eaten" Joel 2:25

Fr. John Mary, ISJ said...

This is the mystery of Holy be willing to allow oneself to "scrape the depths" of the most heinous sins with Jesus in His obedience to the Father, to love those who are not lovable (von Balthasar) be in solidarity with all those "who do not believe, do not adore, not not hope, do not love Him" (Fatima prayer)...
A profound meditation. Thank you.
A blessed Easter to you, dear.
Know you are held in prayer here.
May Jesus give you every grace and blessing. Your struggle to know His will and to respond with love and dedication is a beautiful testimony to your own love of Him.
Know the struggle is worth it.
My prayers and blessing, FrJM

Melody K said...

The only thing that gives us hope in the face of such tragedies is Christ's promise of healing and resurrection, for both the living and the dead victims.
I like Shadowland's quote from Joel, "...the years the locusts have eaten" is an eloquent description.
Like you, I find it hard to pray for those who seem to have gone completely over to the dark side.

Anonymous said...

I didn't read the post--due to your warning--sometimes it is difficult for me to "shake off" bad things happening to children. But I hope you have a very happy and Blessed Easter season!

Gabriella said...

What a beautiful reflection.
Thank you.
How hard it is to love those who commit such crimes and yet ... God's love for them is immense!