BY ELIZABETH McKENZIE
Once, in a moment of dark despair and anguish, my soul silently screamed, “So where is Jesus? Is all this crap?”
I did not expect an answer. I had long ago given up expecting answers. I had decided, in my postmodern existential angst, that the only thing one could do was endure.
I no longer believed that good could come out of evil. I had decided that, at best smouldering resentment or dogged resilience were the inevitable outcomes of an evil situation or, at worst, an even worse evil.
So imagine my surprise when in fact I heard an answer coming in loud and clear, and I might add slightly irritably, through both the internal and external din of the moment. “Well I am here, I’m being crucified.”
I was starkly reminded of this moment over recent weeks as, safe and sound in my own cocooned, comfortable world, I was reading and watching images of death, tragedy and destruction. Searching for some meaning to the endless woes of this world somehow seemed a pointless exercise.
We are and remain powerless in the face of natural unpreventable disasters. But we can do something to alleviate the suffering and fix the destruction. Both the people and government of Australia are generous in their response to other nations’ and other peoples’ tragedies.
Millions of dollars are donated by ordinary folk, military and expert personnel are deployed, volunteers offer their services and cheerfully endure sometimes harrowing living conditions. But admirable and encouraging as these responses are they do little to redress my deep seated sense of uselessness.
What could I do? Nothing basically! What on earth should be my response? Thankfulness that it wasn’t me! My search for meaning seemed doomed to failure. Which is when the question of my angst ridden moment of long ago, quite suddenly and unbidden presented itself. So where is Jesus in all this death and destruction?
He is being crucified in the suffering and anguish of humankind. He is there in the bereft and homeless, the sick and injured, the dazed and hopeless victims of nature’s fury. He is also there in the tortured and oppressed people of our world, in the hungry and thirsty and sick and frightened.
He is being crucified in the arrogance and hatred generated by the certainties of those, even well meaning and committed religious folk, who believe that theirs is the only answer.
And where, we might ask, are we? In the comfort of our living rooms, switching off or switching channels? Or sitting on an agonisingly spiky fence and hoping it will all be over and back to normal before next weekend?
Or we can stand vigil, conscious of the huge shadow cast by the Cross. We can allow ourselves to plumb the depths of bereavement, impotency, and confusion as those first disciples must have done.
We can just be there with our crucified, dying Lord, as the women were and so often are, in the sure hope, that however hopeless the situation might appear to us, in His crucifixion lies the hope of salvation, the seeds of the Resurrection. For that is our faith.
Elizabeth McKenzie is editor of the Tinteán magazine of the Australian Irish Heritage Network.
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