Tuesday, September 19, 2006
"Who do people say that I am?"
Jesus asked his disciples this question, while it continues to reverberate throughout the ages and comes down to each individual soul to answer. Jesus knew what people thought of him, he knows what people think of him. He was calling forth a confession of faith, he was calling those who believed in him to be confessors. In the first reading for Mass this morning Paul discusses the various parts of the mystical body of Christ; Apostles, prophets, teachers, and so on. Ultimately all are called to be confessors.
Immediately upon waking this morning Our Lord's words echoed in my heart, "Who do people say I am?" I recalled the words scrawled upon that defaced picture of Pope Benedict XVI calling Christ a "monkey upon a cross." As a Catholic I felt a sharp pain in my soul, that Jesus is yet mocked and rejected. I think it was a grace I experienced, feeling perhaps the pain that love is not loved. I felt no anger, no need to retaliate, no desire for Catholics to riot and threaten extermination of Muslims, nor any desire to deface an image of Mohammad, not even the most remote desire to burn a mosque or spit upon the next Islamic women I see all wrapped up in a burka.
Neither did I feel any need or desire to dialogue or debate the tenets of opposing views of religious belief. Instead I silently gazed upon an image of the Holy Face this morning. It seems to me that the Church has long been experiencing the passion of it's Master, and now she is mounting the hill of crucifixion, amidst the crowds clamoring for her execution. It is the terrifying and purifying dark night of the soul, or so it seems to me. It is almost overwhelmingly sad that love is not loved.
I don't want the Holy Father to go to Turkey in November, but I suspect he will. Perhaps he will be safe, perhaps not. If he goes, I shall be reminded of St. Ignatius of Antioch, who, fearless of the martyrdom that awaited him in Rome, protested to those who would attempt to stop him and prevent his going, to leave him free to make the journey. He wrote, to paraphrase his own words, asking that they 'not stand in the way of his martyrdom, that he might be ground by the teeth of lions, such as the wheat prepared for the Eucharist.' (Another of my 'free-base' quotes.)
From now on, we all must be confessors of Jesus Christ. Pray for the Holy Father.