I’m thinking, we need a do-over of the Year of Mercy. Because the last one didn’t take.
A friend online recently came under fire for things she’d written in the past. I read the very real pain in her voice as friendships ended because of the scorn and derision she received. It was public and it left bruises. She’d been stoned by people she considered friends.
I sat there trembling, because this happens more and more. People no longer recognize how to examine ideas without attacking individuals, or how to stop advancing an argument to the point of drawing emotional blood. Seldom does anyone mea culpa, or walk back from trying to win the battle at the expense of the war itself.
We are rapidly losing the capacity to speak to each other face to face, heart to heart. We text, so they may not hear our voice, and they may not hear ours. We send an email, so we do not encounter people where they are. We keep our souls a safe social distance from being called to be better through controlling when and how and where we will engage them. We will not consider others opinions except to the extent they agree with us.
That’s not Catholic or Christian or human, it’s tribal, it’s mob rule and it leaves wounds in those who succeed, who grow more accustomed to using this tactic, and in those who lose, who either consider using the tactic, or are left bruised by the experience and wondering, if they dare advance any discussion without testing the prevailing winds.
Christ does not call us to safe friendships, either with each other or Him. Christ calls us to come to Him, to call out to Him and ask Him to take away our blindness so we can see others as He sees them. The Blind man listens for Jesus and seeks Him. The interior vision of the blind man is not focused on others’ faults, but on seeking Christ to heal him of his own. His physical response to the call of Jesus is joyful and strong. He threw aside his cloak, sprang up, and came to Jesus.
As an aside, I do love that before Jesus tells the mob to call for him, the other people are telling the blind man, “Shut up already. Don’t bother Him. He’s important.” and once Jesus speaks, they’re all glomming on saying, “Take courage, the Master is calling you.” The blind man didn’t need their encouragement, he already had courage, he was already calling out. We should be calling out, and at the minimum, we shouldn’t be shouting at anyone, to shut up in the presence of Jesus. Jesus wants to speak with each of us, in our hearts, to our hearts, and wants to hear our heart’s response.
However, our modern world has few if any methods for people to escape if they’ve engaged in a lapse of judgment whether now or years ago. Nor does it allow for any context but its own in anyone’s behavior, such that even things which are not lapses in judgement, but which offend current sensibilities become justifications for public excoriation. We are not interested in hearts. We are interested in an unimpeachable life, an error free game, a perfect pitch of the times at all times response to everything and everyone that never rankles anyone and yet is of substance. We are becoming puritanical in our scrutiny and standards online and in real life, handing out scarlet letters to whosoever displeases. The madness of gleeful flogging will only cease when the collective crowd conscious recognizes its own destructive nature, when someone who should not be destroyed, is. Hearing the very real pain in my friend’s posts, she’s been subjected to the crowd and now found herself picking up the pieces of her shattered peace, and the pain of what felt like permanently lost friends.
The crucified Christ is the perfect example of why we when we are caught up in the frenzy we must stop. The dark joy of being able to know countless others agree with us about the destruction of someone, (but we’re right this time we insist) requires us to pray for the grace to not merely cease, stand at the cross with the crucified.
It is why abortion is wrong. It is why capital punishment is wrong. It is why bullying the bully is wrong. It is why even with those who refuse Christ, we do not get to call down columns of fires. The thieves were crucified on His right and left justly, and yet we know one is with Christ in His glory. So again, we should examine the reality, “Let he who is without sin.” and drop any stones we thought justified to pick up at any point, for any reason, no matter how grave. If we really embrace Christ’s friendship, we don’t have a point at which we “get to” kill others, either with words or deeds. We are called to really love them, in words and deeds at all times. We’re called to “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do,” from the height and depth of our pain, to be merciful and pour out mercy on those who caused all our woe.
It’s not that disciples of Christ must fail to speak, or must always “be chill” about everything and everyone. We must speak out against evil, but we must also when engaging in correction, speak truth in charity, or it will lose rather than win souls. Christ spoke to the crowd and to the woman caught in adultery in such a manner. “Go and sin no more,” is truth in charity to her. This sin is damaging to you, and not just because others know about it. “Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone,” seems sharp, but it is protective of their souls, by forcing them to examine their own lives for sins they know they’ve committed before pronouncing judgement on hers for her known sins. The expiration date of all of our sins, is the forgiveness offered by Christ, as set by our forgiveness of others. “Have mercy on me Lord, a sinner.” The world does not set that as the standard, Christ does.
Real hurts happen, and they happen more and more.
Everyone, put down the rocks and pray, “Jesus, I want to see.”