They are a reminder – and an indictment. While we were standing here, crying out “Crucify him!,” we were clutching the branches that we used to sing out “Hosanna.” The palms reveal our very human duplicity. How easily we turn. How quickly we pivot from faithful, to faithless … from belief to doubt … from being disciples, to being betrayers.
We start out acting like angels, singing “Hosanna.” And we end up just being the mob.
It can sometimes be that way throughout the church. The headlines this week have told the story. Men called to holiness can be guilty of appalling sins. Sins of abuse. Sins of neglect. Sins of dishonesty. Sins of betrayal.
And yet, to be a part of the body of Christ is to be with him on the cross. The Catholic writer Ronald Rolheiser has put it powerfully. “To be a member of the church,” he wrote, “is to carry the mantle of both the worst sin and the finest heroism of soul….because the church always looks exactly as it looked at the original crucifixion, God hung among thieves.”
And all we can do sometimes is echo the words of the one thief, words we heard just a few moments ago: “Jesus, remember me.” That moment is the only one in any of the gospels where someone calls Jesus by his given name. Maybe it is because it is at this moment – the hour of his death — that he is most like us. He hangs there, stripped, beaten, betrayed. He hangs among thieves. This is what we have done to our God. And this is what we continue to do, even today.
You’ll want to read it all.
I am in the middle of a (baking) mess, but will posting something on this later. As a friend of mine noted: “certainly these horrendous issues should be covered, but why is the NY Times so simultaneously disinterested in the sex abuse of students in NYC’s public schools?” As someone who experienced sex abuse both at home and public school, I know this is a valid question. By all means, let us drain this endless pustule from our church, let us repent, let us help the victims find both justice and healing. But let’s not ignore the fact that there are countless victims in other institutions whose stories are not told. Outrage should not be selective. It may be more fun (and more gratifying) for some to talk about sex abuse in the church, but it ignores the plights of many others who must be wondering why their pain and fear is so much less interesting.*
Well, we know the answer. And of course, this being the lead up to Holy Week, it’s all that much more satisfying for some, painful for others, and, you know, “on schedule.”
John Allen: Keeping the Record Straight Re Benedict and the Crisis more here
deSouza: National Post
*edited for clarity.