Just the other day I was with a woman I know who lives with schizophrenia. The drugs she’s on control her condition really well but she still suffers from anxiety and at times is haunted by her past. She was describing what it was like when she was young and would become psychotic.
She talked about the fear that overwhelmed her and the panic that engulfed her so much that she would shake from head to foot and try to harm herself just to get relief. She talked of her mum who would come and wrap her arms around her and hold her till the shaking subsided.
I have thought about the mother a lot since then. She was prepared to put herself in danger for the sake of her daughter. It was a mirror image for me of the reality of God. This God who is pure unconditional love is not into punishment and revenge, not into that tit-for-tat mentality that we have, but just pure love.
We seem to have got ourselves caught up with so much that Jesus didn’t even seem remotely interested in, and moved so far away from what He was interested in. The truth is that it’s all about reflecting love for the world.
To really let the message of Jesus touch our hearts involves a lot of letting go and most of us find it difficult to let go. We’d rather keep control. We’d rather build up our own little kingdoms of power and authority rather than become servants and mirrors for love.
Much of the criticism of Pope Francis is caught up with this need for power rather than the willingness to love. The more he tries to rid the Church of the scourge of power-seeking, the more he is pilloried by those who live in fear of losing power and authority for the sake of love.
I don’t know why we should be surprised by how far we’ve moved. The same thing had happened to the disciples. They’d misunderstood Jesus. They’d moved a million miles from what was important to Him. They argued about power and who was the greatest, when the truth is that the kingdom of God is not about power and status.
It’s very easy to get seduced by the power games that we play in society and in the Church. Don’t be fooled. The call of the Gospel is to stand apart from the power struggles, to serve and to love.