It’s been an odd Lent, and a strange Holy Week.
I’ve skipped Mass the past two Sundays. I didn’t have a good reason, or even a mediocre reason. I’m not sure I had a reason at all.
I’m angry at God.
He feels dead to me this week. Especially today. I guess that’s appropriate, though. In about four hours, he will be.
I used to hate Lent. I think I still do. I especially hated that we have to be the crowd during the Gospel reading on Palm Sunday. I didn’t want to be the lowly screeching masses, calling out to Crucify Christ. What horrid, filthy people. I didn’t want to align with them. I didn’t want to call for Christ’s death.
Today, I think maybe I get it. I understand their rage. They weren’t all bought off. No, they felt betrayed, let down, lied to. For thousands of years they’d suffered slavery, hunger, oppression, injustice, and here they were again, stifled under Roman rule. And for all those thousand years, they’d been promised a savior, a messiah, who would come and set them free, who would lead them to a New Jerusalem. He would bring them justice.
And instead he brought them more servitude. His own servitude. He brought them compassion as he called for non-violence.
I understand their feelings of incredulity.
What? Non-violence? Servitude? Humility?
I’m angry at God and his Church today, as I read more and more of the stories of my friends who have suffered harm and injustice at the hands of not secular society, but at the hands of Christ’s Church. Where is his perfect justice now?
I am angry at God as I look at our society and the anxiety builds within me at the systemic oppression, racism, anti-Semitism, rape-culture. I’m angrier, because I go to a Catholic University, a supposed paragon of virtue, and yet the misogyny I hear daily could make your hair turn white. (At least, I hope it would. If it wouldn’t, I’m not sure why you’re bothering to read my column.)
And so, for the first time, I understand how abandoned these people felt. Manipulating their misery, the Pharisees told them to look at their Messiah now. Their promised one. What has he done to save them from their suffering? From their women being raped, their children orphaned, their wives widowed? The Messiah who was promised, he would have saved them. He would have conquered their foes and brought them justice, prosperity, relief.
And what has this Nazarene done for you, they ask? He tells you to love more. To love your enemies. To turn the other cheek.
So they rejected him, in their righteous anger. They called for his death. You tell us to suffer gladly. Will you suffer as gladly?
What they could not see was that he was their scapegoat. He was not the elders, oppressing them. He was not the Romans, raping their woman and forcing them into poverty.
What they could not see was that the justice, the peace, they craved could not be bought with more blood. Not the blood of their elders, not the blood of their enemies.
His blood was to put an end to the bloodshed. But it didn’t.
Today, this haunts me.
I am angry at him, angry like those Jewish men and women two thousand years ago, angry that he has not delivered us from the hands of our oppressors. I’m angry that his Church is often a force of that oppression, just as the Jewish oppressors were. I’m angry that my queer friends are denied the compassion and kindness, the dignity, they deserve from the mouths of this ugly, broken, beloved Church of mine. I’m angry that this Church is often more afraid of divorce than of domestic violence. I’m angry that they told my mother to “be another Monica” instead of supporting her to leave my abusive father 25 years ago.
And it’s easy to blame Christ for that. He founded this Church, didn’t he? Where is his Holy Spirit, protecting the vulnerable from the tyranny of not only secular men, but of Godly men?
Crucify him repeats over and over in my brain, now angry, now afraid, now blasphemously sing-song. And my heart hurts. I crave the healing tears bring. I want to weep for him. And I can’t.