Once I got bullied out of a community I loved very much, because some of its members apparently spread rumors that I had created “scandal” and insulted the leader. I hadn’t done this, but that didn’t matter. They thought I had, or claimed they thought I had. And I don’t think they meant malice directly toward me. I think they thought they were doing a good thing, serving God, protecting God from such an evil woman as they supposed me to be. They were hopping around the altar crying “Lord, answer us!” but they weren’t serving God. They were being liars, gossips and bullies.
And I’ve been caught up in similar things, myself. When I went to Franciscan University, and at the churches I attended in Columbus, I can remember spreading gossip with members of my own crowd about people in somebody else’s circle of friends, everyone saying the nastiest things about people because we thought that in doing so we were protecting the Faith from her enemies. We were sure that our anger was righteous and the way we dealt with it was impeccable, because we were acting in God’s name. But we weren’t really acting in God’s name. We were acting in fear and pettiness, and referring to the fear and pettiness as “Lord.”
I think, if we’re honest, we can all point to times we’ve hopped around an altar crying “Lord, answer us!” and the Lord hasn’t, because we were not crying out to Him but to His enemy, with the appearance of piety. That’s something of which we all need to repent.
Right now, a couple of friends of mine are getting a taste of what happens when a large enough group hop around the wrong altar.
One of the most shameful Catholic internet tabloids posted an article smearing them this week, painting them as blasphemers and dangerous radicals. Their supposed crime was once assigning an edgy book to a small group of grown-ups for a college English course in order to help them learn to dialogue with viewpoints different from and antagonistic to their own.
And the whole mob thinks they’re doing this in the names of Jesus and Mary.
They are committing the sin of rash judgment, not waiting to get a clearer picture of what happened and not waiting for the testimony of a more reliable witness than a histrionic internet wack job. They are sinning against the fifth commandment by attacking my friends’ good name and threatening them– even if my friends were as evil as they’re being portrayed to be, the Christian response would never be abuse or harassment. And I don’t think they can see what they’re doing, because they believe they’re doing it in the names of Jesus and Mary.
They’ve become the state prophets of Baal, Ahab and Jezebel: hopping around an altar that has my dear friends tied to the top of it, crying “Lord, answer us!” and hoping my friends burn alive, for the glory of a tabloid publication that claims it wants to protect the Faith.
I trust that God will see my friends through this through this.
I pray that we all remember that just because we find ourselves hopping around an altar crying out to the Lord, doesn’t mean that we’re doing the Lord’s work. Others are quite good at inciting fervor and indignation as well. It’s all too easy to become an idolater.
Do keep my friends in your prayers.
(image via Pixabay)