Viper-bitten and Polarized in Lent

I’m a little behind and late getting this linked, but my column is up at First Things, where I am reflecting on todays readings and how viper-bitten the whole church seems to be, this Lent:

The Church seems always to be challenged during the Lenten season, but this time the attacks are not foreign, as it were, but domestic: Interior factions are attempting to pull the Church toward their own interests, and as Holy Week approaches the Body of Christ seems as openly vulnerable as Leonardo’s Vitruvian Man, with each splayed limb tied to a blindered, huffing beast, all too eager to charge in its own direction.

We have seen this before, or course. Today’s Mass readings seem eerily apt: Led out of Egypt by the stuttering murderer, the imperfect Moses—upon whose faulty shoulders God placed the burden of migration and formation—is laid the dissatisfied, impatient, and unhappy grouse: “Why have you brought us up from Egypt to die in this desert, where there is no food or water? We are disgusted with this wretched food!” (Nm. 21:4)

And because they are distrustful, disobedient—disinclined to trust whom God has chosen, or God’s own meandering “plans of fullness” in the midst of seeming chaos—they are bitten by vipers; they become ill. They are struck down.

Our Lenten time in the desert has felt similarly discordant and serpent-struck. Our Christ-loving Pope—I wouldn’t want to be in his place—is beset on all sides; his curia often “helps” him into more difficulties; his faithful priests are besieged and brokenhearted, and the unfaithful ones must still be converted and, like recalcitrant sheep, coaxed back into line. The laity are confused, mostly ill-catechized and grazing farther and farther afield, where they are prey not only to the brazen wolves, but the ones disguised as fluffy lambs, too.

The answer is always for all of us to look at Christ crucified on the Cross, who brings balance and in whom there neither chaos nor confusion can exist. Chaos and confusion are anti-Christ.

You can read it all here.

More on today’s readings; a good piece!

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