Jesus is our substitute. It is not banishment from the community, but God removes our sin and division. He accepts our sins, carries them, and takes them away by transforming them so that they are not returned in the same form.
January 13, 2023
Father Ron Rohlheiser
in his novel, Oscar and Lucinda, Peter Carey offers this colorful image of gossip. Here is his metaphor: , the noise was heard in its walls and in the basement. They imagined that he had paid for her ornaments. When they heard that this was not the case, the girl had Sovereign in her purse.At the stage when anger was hissing from the open valve, there was a growl in the throat of a small dog. A good rumble was maintained with a low sounding sound. ”
What a good image! Gossip is like steam coming out of a radiator or the growl of a small dog, but it’s still important. For most of our lives, we form communities around it. Why?
Imagine going out to dinner with a group of colleagues. There is no outright animosity between you, but there are distinct differences and tensions. We don’t naturally choose to go out to dinner together, but circumstances allow us to be together and we make the most of it.
You have dinner together and things go very smoothly. There is harmony, jokes and humor at the table. Even with our differences, how do we move past them and get along? By talking about someone else. A lot of time is spent talking about other people about their flaws, quirks, and shortcomings that we all agree on. Or talk about common resentment. We talk about someone or something that is more different from us than it is from each other, so we can have a harmonious time together. I’m here. Your fears are well-founded.
Until we reach a certain level of maturity, we build our community primarily around scapegoats. That is, overcoming differences and tensions by focusing on someone or something with whom you share common distance, resentment, ridicule, anger, or jealousy. That’s the anthropological function of gossip – And it’s a very important one. We overcome differences and tensions by making someone or something a scapegoat. That is why it is easier to form a community against something than around something, and to define ourselves by what we are against rather than what we are for. That’s it.
Ancient cultures knew this and designed certain rituals to remove tension from their communities by scapegoating. existed. Periodically, the community would take the goat and symbolically decorate it with community tensions and divisions. Among other things, they covered it with a purple cloth to symbolize that it represented them symbolically, and tucked a crown of thorns into their heads to make them feel the pain of their tension. Notice how Jesus was covered with these exact symbols when he was shown to the crowds before his crucifixion: Ecce homo…behold, your scapegoat!) The goat was then driven off to die in the desert. Leaving a community was understood as removing the community’s sins and tensions, and by its expulsion, freeing the community from tensions.
Jesus is our substitute. It is not banishment from the community, but God removes our sin and division. He accepts our sins, carries them, and takes them away by transforming them so that they are not returned in the same form. Jesus takes away sin by keeping the impurities inside and returning only the pure, just as a water filter purifies.
When we say that Jesus died for our sins, we should understand it as follows. He accepted hatred and returned love. He accepted the curse and returned the blessing. He accepted bitterness and returned grace. He accepted the jealousy and returned the affirmation. And he accepted the murder and returned forgiveness. By absorbing our sins, our differences, our envy, He does what we are trying to do in an immature and ineffective way when we try to crucify each other with gossip. He made it
And that is Jesus’ invitation to us. As adults, we are invited to step up and do what Jesus did. Then the scapegoat will no longer be needed, the gossip steam pipes will stop hissing, and the low growl of the little dog inside us will finally be quiet.
(Oblate Fr Ron Rolheiser is a theologian, teacher, award-winning author, and dean of the Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio, Texas. He is the author of a weekly newsletter that appears in over 90 newspapers worldwide. He writes a column, you can contact him on his website www.ronrolheiser.com.)