I was being stretched by the tiniest glimpse of something true received, already, in my early adolescence: that ultimately the Catholic faith would embrace and include the gay heart; that the two held together give glory to God; and that it is better to die than to let go of that.
When Paul urges his listeners to become his imitators in offering himself up as sacrifice, just as Paul imitates Christ; or Peter tells his that they are living stones of the long-awaited New Temple: both take for granted that to be in Christ is a fundamentally priestly form of life.
One can, and some do, read Martel’s book as an accusation against the world of systemic mendacity which it reveals. For my part, I read it as one of the events which signal that God’s forgiveness is at last reaching even the hardest-hearted parts of our Church.
So, the other shoe has finally dropped. The veil has been removed from what the French rather gloriously call a “secret de Polichinelle” - an open secret: one that “everybody knows” but for which the evidence is both elusive and never really sought. The merely anecdotal is, at last, acquiring the contours of sociological visibility.
The destruction of the Temple is prophesied, and wars, revolutions, turbulence, plague and famine all foretold. But.. do not allow your heads to be turned by all this, avert your gaze, do not attribute any sort of divine significance to any of this... The real coming of the son of man will be like a thief in the night, when you are not expecting it, so be vigilant.
Rather than being people who are first ordered, and then fall from order (and so are dis-graced), and then restored to order by forgiveness, understood as a form of pity from on high, we may find it possible to tell another story: we start as those who are not yet ordered, and find ourselves being summoned out of our too-small selves into being... as we are challenged to reach beyond any sort of safety.
It’s a word we’re all familiar with, it’s through the violence of the scapegoating mechanism that civilisations are built. And, it is through the scapegoating mechanism that the cross heals. It’s a fascinating way of understanding the atonement, especially for those of us disillusioned with models of atonement that require a violent God.
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