The bleeding heart of Jesus

By

31 Oct 2017

Every time news of priests who sexually abused children appear on TV, a knot forms in my stomach.  I turn my eyes away and try not to hear the details, and hope it does not catch the attention of my teenage children – though they are by now probably less affected by it than I am as they do not hold priests in as high regard as I do.  

I try to turn a blind eye and a deaf ear, and just continue life as normally as I can but the heart cannot be silenced – the heart bleeds. Thinking of the people who were harmed by abusive priests, I hear ‘lamenting and weeping bitterly …Rachel weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted’ after the massacre of the innocents by Herod in the search for baby Jesus. (Mt 2: 16 – 18).

I think of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, now the bleeding heart of Jesus. But Jesus’ heart has always been bleeding.  He knew when those priests were abusing children, when the Church covered it up. It is only now that what took place in the dark has come out into the light for us. Little wonder people are leaving the church. We have to look to Jesus, to God, look beyond the fallible human leaders of the church.

Sometimes we think that the Passion of Christ is over, it was in the past. He died and has risen. But Christ continues to be crucified. This is a time in our church when he is being crucified all over again, especially in those who have been abused.

Recently during Mass, we heard the story of Peter walking on water (Mt 14: 22 – 33); when Peter noticed the strong wind, he lost faith, became frightened and began to sink. He had the faith to cry out to Jesus for help. Fr Brendan Lane, our parish priest, compared this time of our church to Peter taking his eyes off Jesus, becoming frightened and sinking.  We have to call out to Jesus to restore our faith in his church.

In the Weekend Australian, Aug 26-27, 2017, Greg Sheridan in an excellent article called, ‘Is God dead?’ He wrote that, ‘The eclipse of Christianity will be like the eclipse of the sun. Darkness will be the result. Will it be a temporary darkness or a long night of the Western soul?’  

The present state of our world brings to mind the Two Standards. In the Two Standards, St Ignatius presents the standard of Lucifer, ‘the deadly enemy of our human nature’: riches, honour and pride, versus Christ’s standards: poverty, humiliation or contempt, and humility.

The evil force is very strong and evident in our world today. Christ’s voice has been subdued and the church’s moral authority eroded by the deeds of those priests who succumbed to, in Sheridan’s words, ‘the terrible temptation provided by the total power of one human being over another.’

Paul wrote to the Corinthians (2 Corinthians 4:7-10) that as Christians we are subjected to every kind of hardship, but we are never distressed; we see no way out but we never despair; we are pursued but never cut off; we are knocked down but still have some life in us. Always we carry with us in our body the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus, too, may be visible in our body.

‘In the beginning was the Word:

The Word was with God
And the Word was God …
‘What has come into being in him was life,
Life that was the light of men;
And light shines in darkness,
And darkness could not overpower it.’  (Jn 1: 1, 4-5)

We, whom Christ has chosen to be light for the world, will keep Jesus’ light shining in the world, believing that darkness could not overpower it.

Like the little candle-lights that the mass of people hold up each year at Carols by Candlelight, that together create a beautiful, uplifting sight, we, by each letting Jesus’ light shine through us, can also shine the way forward for believers in these dark times.

Susie Hii is a writer and author of Happy, Healthy, Holy.
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