In the last week or so we’ve had three long rains, the first rains for the better part of a year, with this last rain lasting for days, looking like it’s going to rain until late tonight. I’m guessing even the deep-down-in-the-forest-floor smoldering fires are pretty much totally out, though a firefighter told me last night at the fire house that there were still some pretty serious smoke columns going up here or there.
Pretty much every single fire was man-made, even malicious, what with burning tires stuffed with whatever rubbish and drenched with flammable liquids rolled down mountains, etc. So many lost their lives. So many lost their homes and livelihoods. A firefighter died of a heart attack fighting the blazes. One of the many arsonists was actually trying to blame someone innocent. Pretty bad, huh?
Well, what if someone instead came along and took the blame for the whole lot of it? In fact, what if someone apologized for anything and everything even though he was innocent of all evil, being innocent Himself, the very Son of the Immaculate Conception, Christ Jesus Our God? What if Jesus were to say to His heavenly Father at His Baptism by John in the river Jordan: “Treat me like I enslaved everyone in sin from Adam until the last man is conceived”? That’s what He did, right, standing in our stead, therefore having the right in His own justice to have mercy on us? “Blame me,” He said. Yes. But…
Let me make this personal. What if I, a priest hearing confessions one Saturday afternoon in my parish, suddenly saw Jesus Himself kneel at the screen and start confessing every sin I’ve committed since birth, you know, all my sins? I think I would start not just crying in thanksgiving for such love so utterly unmerited by myself, but I would be a total wreck, bawling uncontrollably. But that’s what He’s done, and for all of us.
And then there’s Pope John Paul II, a canonized saint, mind you, who not once, not twice, but many times apologized for what sinners did throughout the millennia, you know, those individuals calling themselves Catholic but not acting as Catholics. Remember when all those self-righteous armchair pundits publicly berated him for doing what he couldn’t possibly do, saying that “the Church” didn’t commit those sins, so you can’t apologize for them!
“Nevertheless, it’s only right for me as the Supreme Pontiff to do so,” he responded, entrenching all the more. Right. In solidarity with Jesus as He is in solidarity with us, that is what we are to do. Blame me!
“No, no!” people bitterly complain. “I didn’t light those fires! And I’m not al-Qaeda or ISIS! I don’t do those kinds of things and I’m not going to apologize for what I didn’t do!”
B as in B and S as in S as a famous internet personality exclaims. You and I, innocent perhaps of whatever terrorist or whatever incident, have all done something much worse, so bad that it encompasses all other evil ever done since Adam until the last man is conceived. We’ve all crucified the Son of the Living God with our sin, original sin and our own personal rubbish.
Jesus, Mary’s Son, I’m so very sorry. Please, forgive me. Send upon my the gentle rain of grace and put out the fire of my hell, bringing me into your friendship, having me walk with you through this life and into heaven, for I know you will come to judge the living and the dead and the world by fire. Amen.