Mary Marrocco

Mary Marrocco

Dr. Mary Marrocco is an associate secretary for the Canadian Council of Churches. She is also a teacher, writer and lay pastoral worker. Her column, Questioning Faith, features topics about the teachings of our church, scriptures, the lives and writings of the saints and spiritual writers and theologians. She can be reached at marrocco7@sympatico.ca.

As with the disciples who walked the earth with Jesus, belonging to Him means belonging to each other — and this raises unavoidable questions, from who gets to be in charge, to what to do when somebody starts stealing. Even with Christ at the centre, it’s not easy to be a community.  

At a Project Rachel retreat, one participant approached a facilitator toward the end of the weekend. “Why?” she asked, incredulous. “Why would someone who’s never had an abortion want to spend their time helping us who have?”

As we can readily observe, it’s not Good Friday that needs to be proclaimed to the world but Easter Sunday. We all know about suffering, death and violence; no evidence is required. But the good news needs to be made known: that forgiveness has trumped cruelty, love has triumphed over death and the apparent victory of evil has become a tool in God’s hand to give us life eternal. Evil is revealed to be like smoke that vanishes in the breeze or wax that melts in the fire (Psalm 96).

A certain young woman had deep faith in God, but little connection with religion. Later she embraced Church life and revisited concepts, stories and Scripture passages she’d learned as a child and still understood in childish ways. She was astonished to discover one of the beatitudes declares: “Blessed are the meek” (Matthew 5:5).

“Why can’t my spouse and I understand each other?” Even in the dearest of relationships, we might feel we can’t understand our husband, daughter, father or friend. 

“The proudest moment in my life,” Tom Sawyer calls it.  It’s a comically poignant moment in Mark Twain’s novel when Tom and Huck attend their own funeral. The whole congregation weeps as they listen to the preacher extolling the two mischievous boys’ virtues. Facing their “deaths” brings home to their families and communities, and the boys themselves, that they’re worthy of love. Something we all need to know.

A young woman, Suzette, became used to inventing explanations for being late for school. She was ashamed to tell the real reason: frequently, she had to take a detour, because she thought she’d glimpsed a certain type of vehicle and was afraid to see or be seen by the occupant. Just the idea of seeing a certain person who had harmed her, and who drove such a vehicle, made her so anxious she had to change her daily course. 

Touch anyone and you touch grief, the grief of losing someone beloved. There’s grief, and there’s the grief born of a tragic death such as from suicide. Socially, and even as a Church, we often don’t know how to respond.

Once, in a public place, I overheard a couple of men talking as they walked along behind me.

The deep-down goodness of the “average” person gives me awe. No wonder the psalmist, even after experiencing the worst human beings are capable of, exclaims: “you are gods, children of the most high, all of you” (Psalm 82:6). For, as Jesus reminded His hearers when quoting this verse (John 10:34), we’re capable of receiving the very word of God. When we lose everything else, we must hold on to this truth.