In which having run into the Angry God crowd again, I remind myself that they are not ones I should listen to. Not at all.
It’s been interesting these past two weeks. The Gospel readings on Sunday that is. The Second Sunday of Easter dealt with a doubting Thomas and the Third Sunday with eleven apostles who had to see the risen Jesus eat fish to finally get it.
What has stood out to me in both cases is that Jesus is rather patient and even gentle with Thomas and the Apostles. Jesus met Thomas at his doubts and showed him why they were pointless. And while Jesus chided him a little for having to touch him to believe, Jesus provided Thomas exactly what he needed. Jesus showed up because Thomas asked him to. Jesus didn’t hide himself or berate Thomas. He didn’t demand Thomas believe just because Jesus said so. Jesus showed Thomas his wounds. He acknowledged Thomas’ doubts and met them to banish them completely. Jesus didn’t force Thomas to do anything, believe anything. Jesus did not deny Thomas after Thomas asked to see and touch the wounds. He showed himself to Thomas. Jesus respected Thomas’ doubts, met them face on, and them banished them. All patiently and with love.
Jesus does the same with the Apostles. He talks to them but knows they doubt. So he, probably a little amused, asks for food even though they’ve been together for three years. Jesus eats and they finally get it. Again, Jesus doesn’t demand or force or berate. He is patient and helps them get it.
So Jesus, even with the Apostles he chose himself and knew very well, he was patient and understanding of their doubts. No Angry God out to punish people for even breathing wrong. Could Jesus be forceful? Certainly but he was never a tyrant or a dictator. And more firm than force. He spoke with meaning and purpose. Jesus did not use words carelessly.
Jesus came along side people and met them where they were at. He didn’t demand. He asked. He could also be asked. Prayer is that asking.
In running into the Angry God crowd, I realize many of them want to play God not love like God. They want to make rules and set impossible standards. They want people to fail so that they can say they are better than those people. They don’t allow God to be merciful because they are not merciful. They condemn people for even the littlest thing and expect that person to make themselves perfect before they can come crawling back on hands and knees to Jesus and ask for forgiveness. They don’t want Jesus to forgive them because they wouldn’t forgive.
Thankfully, those in the Angry God crowd do not speak for the Church. I do not have to listen to them. They may say they are Catholic but their words and actions don’t show that they believe in or know Jesus very well. Or at all. They are too interested in promoting their interpretation and application of Catholic beliefs instead of listening to and obeying Holy Mother Church. No mercy, love or forgiveness, just pain and endless suffering. A dictatorship not the Kingdom of God.
I think I’ll take mercy, love, and forgiveness. And, oh yeah, Jesus.
Because none of that would work without him.