It is comparatively easy to see the wounded Christ in someone who is suffering blamelessly — the child who has just lost both parents in a car crash, the elderly person slapped across the face by a so-called carer, someone with an incurable disease. But what about seeing him in the convicted paedophile, the murderer, the political extremist? How many of us look at Kim Jong-un, for example, and see anything other than a hideous travesty of a human being?
I was thinking about this in connection with the opening words of RB 72, On Good Zeal, which we read today: ‘Just as there is an evil zeal of bitterness which separates from God and leads to hell . . . ‘ We tend to be rather keen on vicarious victimisation, unleashing our anger and contempt on those we feel we can safely condemn for their brutality or wickedness. We are indeed zealous in our fury. But, somehow, that doesn’t quite fit with what is expected of anyone who claims to be a disciple of Christ. We are called to see him in everyone, not just those who excite our compassion or admiration. That doesn’t mean giving way to a kind of wishy-washy moral flabbiness that refuses to uphold anything because it is incapable of doing so; it means something much more difficult. It means really looking, really listening and being prepared to be thought a fool because one does not follow the crowd. In the end, it means cultivating good zeal, and as the verb ‘cultivate’ indicates, that is impossible without prayer and effort in equal measure.
To sum up. The wounded Christ is everywhere, in you and me and all around. Let us try to be alert to him today.