dodging the stones

The gospel readings from John in this last week of Lent show the increasingly dangerous levels of tension between Jesus and the religious leaders of his time. Stones are picked up and arrests are attempted. Jesus knows that it is only a matter of time before they find a reason to kill him.

When a faith community faces persecution from outside powers, strength is found within the community. Those who offer the ultimate sacrifice of life are upheld as martyrs. They become a symbol of faithfulness and inspiration. When the persecution comes from inside your own community, there is a deep loneliness along with the hurt.

Many years ago, we experienced a dark time in our parish and diocese. It reached a crisis point during Lent. How appropriate! In my prayers, I wailed about the unfairness of the situation….

  • Why am I being punished….I was only trying to do good!
  • But, I haven`t done anything wrong!
  • How can priests and bishops act in such an un-Christian manner?
  • Where have my friends gone?  Why isn`t anyone defending me?
  • My God, my God…why have you forsaken me?

Oh, I forgot. Jesus experienced the same thing… and much worse!

Jesus tried to show that living a life of deep faith goes beyond obedient adherence to rules or a mindless recitation of prayers. A sincere faith requires you to connect your beliefs to just action. It is a constant reading of the signs of the times in order to respond in a meaningful and effective way to the needs around us. Sometimes it requires an honest questioning of rules and regulations. It will always require an open and honest dialogue with each other and with our leaders.

And, it helps to know how to dodge a few stones along the way!

2 thoughts on “dodging the stones

  1. All of us have been hurt; all of us have been betrayed. You cannot grow spiritually until you know you have been betrayed by someone who loves you. You cannot be betrayed by a stranger. Betrayal is not a betrayal unless you are in relationship to those who betray you. Jesus was betrayed. Every essential human story has a betrayal in it. Part of the drama of Holy Week is that Jesus was betrayed by those closest to him. Enemies plot against you, this is not betrayal. Jesus was betrayed by his “spiritual family”.
    Betrayal by your spiritual family can hurt more than your biological family. There is choice and there can be more spiritual intimacy involved with those whom we share a spiritual bond.
    The Psalmist says it well when he/she says something like: “If an enemy had done this I could have taken it, but you my brother/sister, who walked with me in the temple…”
    A religious brother that I interviewed who is now deceased, on every occasion I saw him would tell me about a betrayal that happened 30 years ago. He was still living out of that event 30 years after that event occurred, his life had stopped 30 years before, but he was still living as if it had happened 10 minutes ago. It was a thief of time. What kind of freedom, what kind of love, what events could have occurred in that life had he let go of that betrayal. Also, I wish he could have dodged a few more stones.
    Ray McCracken

    1. `You cannot be betrayed by a stranger.` You describe well the deep hurt of betrayal from within a spiritual community, Ray…and the hard struggle of forgiveness. It takes much spiritual strength to learn from the experience. And, it takes a determined soul to remain faithful to the community. Thank you.

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