Apr 1, 2010

Let he who is without sin...


Catholics are a worried lot nowadays.

In scandals that are rocking the highest echelons of the 'purest' form of Christianity with repercussions that could shake the faith of a million.

Rev. Lawrence C Murphy, who is at the center of the latest scandal is accused of molesting hundreds of deaf boys at a School for deaf in Wisconsin.

What rattles the victims more is that Pope Benedict XVI, formerly Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger had received letters about Murphy in 1996 which mentioned that the deaf community "needed a healing response from the Church". The Vatican sat on the case, deliberated but by the time, Murphy died, he died a priest.

The victims are outraged.
They wanted the tainted priest jailed and punished for his sins. And I believe the anguish is genuine.

As a young boy, I have been molested several times over a period of 4 years, and have lived with the agony, shame and trauma. I find it hard to trust people off hand and can't forgive easily either.

Sin is global. Forgiveness is Universal.

Victims of sexual abuse seldom forgive. Child Abuse is particularly traumatic, because the victim is unaware of what is happening to him/her, is incapable of defending themselves and is filled with the shame and hatred after the act.
I remember how I filthy I felt after I was raped as a 11 year old. I spat on my hands and my body to get rid of the smell. My mom didn't believe me when I told her I was raped. I've had nightmares for many years after that. I didn't know what I did wrong to warrant some stranger to take me home and rape me. I felt intense guilt for having gone to that playground that day.
For years after that, I would abuse myself physically to get rid of the guilt. I have grappled with trust and phobias.

As an adult, when I had to visit the locality near that playground I panicked. Memories of the act came rushing back. I vowed to never be back. I wished if I could ask that man why he did that to me, I would have asked him why he took away my innocence. I would have liked to have him behind bars. I wanted closure.

A decade later, I recall the trauma when I read reports about child abuse in the Church. Bibliographically, the Church is the Body of Christ. It is a living monument of how vast and encompassing God's love.

He wants us to live a simpler life. A life that looks up to Him in prayer, humility and gratitude.

Somewhere down the line, the Church has fallen. As guardians of our faith, the priests have fallen. Deep into a sin that defiles something that is supposed to cleanse.

2000 years ago, in the 33 years of His Life, Jesus encompassed love, forgiveness and mercy. He came to earth, to save the sinner. He dined with the sinner, Forgave the adulterer and Had mercy on all who didn't deserve it.

A placard that a lady recently held up as part of the protest read, 'If Jesus was here today, He would be with the victims'. Noble thought. But we are all missing the point. Jesus would have had mercy. He would have wanted us to have mercy on the sinners among us too, just the way He had on the Roman guards who crucified Him. Knowing that they were crucifying a Man who committed no sin, did they ever flinch? Not one stopped the crucifixion. Though Jesus cried out in pain, though He cried droplets of blood and bled water, His compassion and ability to forgive converted the heartless guards into staunch followers of Christianity.

Today, amidst all the cries to persecute the Vatican, all I can hear are a lot of people who have taken the moral high ground much like the scribes and pharisees who brought a woman who was caught red handed, to test Him. They ofcourse didn't really bring her because they were ridding the society of all evil, they just wanted to know how liberal He was in matters of the law of God. Reading their minds, and knowing their hearts perfectly well, He asked the truly righteous and sinless among them to throw the first stone in condemnation. Not one came forward. None could claim to have not sinned. He didn't condemn the woman either but forgave her, and asked her to "sin no more", lest she burn in hell.
Where were the men who committed adultery with her?

I notice it is equally easy to take the moral high horse now. We have self proclaimed guru's and moral policemen who choose to accuse the 'guilty' and endorse the 'righteous'.

'Judge not and you shall be judged by the same yardstick..'
If we were to let God judge us for all the sins and transgressions that we committed, the world would have been a nature reserve with none of us here.

He forgave all our sins.
Imagine the magnitude of the compassion!

By coming down to earth, taking the form of a baby, born in a the lowest form in the most humblest of locations to parents with royal lineage but modest living. Living through trials and temptations for 30 years when He could have easily 'made an entrance' with Angels and Archangels. He could have easily wiped away the people who mocked and ridiculed Him with a thought, but He persevered. He toiled and did things the hard way. He died the harshest way a man could. Yet, He had nothing but the greatest of compassion and love for all of us. He didn't die so that we can have something to fill into the 'Religion' field in forms. He died to pay for all our sins for all time to come. For all the sins of all the people for the last 2000 years and until He comes again. He died so that we can all say: "I am forgiven". He lives because we are not forgotten. He lives because we have an eternity to look forward to.

If as our Creator, who yearns for us to come back to Him and repent for the mess that we do, He is infinitely merciful, why can't we as mere cohabitants of this momentary life, learn to forgive people who falter.

It is not as if sexual immorality and sin didn't exist, it did. But He chose not to wipe us out of the face of the earth, because we are meant to look up to Him. Because we are meant to forgive and love. Jesus came, not because He had less work to do up in Heaven, but because He was on a mission to save us from hell. If we as humans feel obliged to return a favor that another person does, why are we so hesitant to forgive when another sins?

He could have certainly flooded the earth and snuffed out all life. He did that once but His grief of having destroyed something He created with His unending Love and His deep desire to see all His children come back to Heaven keeps us here.

When are we going to look inward? When are we going to see the planks in our eyes before offering to lift the speck of another's eye?

Being called a Christian, a Muslim or a Hindu is meaningless if we don't practice Universal Love and Forgiveness.

While it is true that we need closure, I doubt if true closure will ever come from seeing the perpetrator behind bars. I learnt that you will be able to forgive only when surrender your pain and trauma in humility and forgiving the person(s).


For the rest, 'let he who is without sin, cast the first stone...'
Go ahead forgive that person who sinned against you today, you owe Him.
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