When you think about it, none of us is a stranger to the experience of anxiety in our lives. Money, relationships, politics, religion, disappointments, failures, misunderstandings…and the list goes on and on. This past year, one issue that has been creating a lot of anxiety in me is the latest information we’ve been getting about the crimes of sexual abuse of children and the response, or lack of response, even cover-up by some in the leadership of the Church. The more information comes to light, the more horrible the story becomes.
Most all of us, as we hear these stories, have a whole range of reactions. At first disbelief, then horror followed closely by outrage and finally, a deep and helpless sadness. But those reactions, important as they are, are minor compared to the depth of compassion that wells up inside us for those children who have been so criminally violated. Reaching out to them with understanding and support is the most important response that we can make. Close behind that is the determination to identify and change the system (circumstances) that allowed such base behavior to go on for so long either undetected or ignored. Only then is it possible to apologize and seek forgiveness.
It could be that even my writing to you about this is creating anxiety in you. It is creating it in me. Surely it will continue to create anxiety in all of us until we finally discover ways to keep our children safe and secure; and create attitudes and processes in the Church that respond promptly and effectively to these kinds of crimes.
But, even with anxiety all around us Christ assures us that we can live in His peace. How are we to do that during these trying times? In giving us his peace, Christ didn’t seem to think it was important for the world to change or for the violence and chaos around us to be overcome. Rather, he invited us to welcome into our hearts the love and eternal life that he has given us. As the love we have received becomes stronger and stronger in us the more able we are to see and respond to the evil that is so present in our world. The love that Christ revealed to us on his Cross allows us to be open to the wounds of the world, hold them in our hearts and respond to them with the deep compassion that is able to heal and transform all who suffer. Pope Francis, since the very beginning of his papacy, has been encouraging us to let God’s love and mercy transform us so we can transform our world. Today and every day, let’s heed his call and open our hearts more deeply to welcome God’s love.
Reflection © 2018 Michael Higgins C.P.
Photograph 2018 Michael J. Cunningham OFS
This material can be republished and redistributed for non-commercial purposes with copyright attribution.