They say that mud sticks and life experience tells us that this is absolutely true. It is the same with shame; it clings and actually seems to eat into the very marrow of our being, eating away at our self-esteem until we are, in some cases, completely floored.

What I am referring to are the various scandals that seem to have erupted in the Church over the last few months. Part of me reacts in the way I have just described, then another part of me rebels against the shame and protests that this has nothing to do with me. I have not sinned; I have not committed the crimes which are being revealed; I have not perpetrated these terrible offences against innocent people, innocent young people, innocent children.

We are in the process of celebrating Holy Week and Easter. For us it is such a special time, in fact, the centre and focus of our spiritual lives and our spiritual year. Through immersing ourselves into the Liturgy, we accompany Jesus on the road which leads from Palm Sunday through the Last Supper, the agony and arrest in the Garden, the painful and shameful procession to Calvary, the death and entombment of Christ’s lifeless body, the apparently hopeless waiting at the tomb and finally through to the unexpected Resurrection and joyful appearances of the Risen Lord. 

It’s hard for us to take in the ways of God: that he is as high above creation as the heavens, yet stoops to the very depth of our lowliness and sinfulness. He is the God who reaches into the darkness of our lives and shares it in order to bring us his light and raise us up to share his life. If I didn’t believe this then I would be unable to acknowledge a God who, despite our worst efforts, protects the innocent but who also, at the same time, reaches out to the perpetrator, the sinner. Yes, I feel shame reflected on me by others, but I also know the saving, cleansing and redeeming sacrifice of Christ Jesus who

did not cling

to his equality with God

but emptied himself

to assume the condition of a slave

and he was humbler yet,

even to accepting death,

death on a cross.

But God raised him high

and gave him the name

which is above all other names

Jesus Christ as Lord,

to the glory of God the Father.

(Philippians 2.6-11)

And this same Christ Jesus offers this life, light, salvation, cleansing and redemption to all who want it, who turn to him in any kind of need; yes, even you, even me.

Yours in blessed hope,