I cannot claim to have written this piece, but I wish I had. (Anyone able to identify the author is asked, please, to let me know.)
The torment sexually abused children endure – the pain they carry for a lifetime – raises the eternal question of why God would permit evil to flourish.
Abuse can only be understood (if at all) against the backdrop of Christ’s own suffering.
As with Pharaoh’s murder of Jewish infants at the time of Moses’ birth, and the massacre of the innocents by Herod the Great following Jesus’ birth, the horrors inflicted on children by sexual predators are inexcusable.
Yet the image of children so violated may be as close to a likeness of Christ on the cross as can be had in this fallen world.
Lamb of God
Few among us would not give his/her life for the life of a child, if called on to do so. We would not hesitate. These little lambs are precious to us.
So, too, with Christ. The sinless Paschal lamb offered Himself as the Lamb of God for the atonement of our sins. Recall that John the Baptist exclaimed, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world,” when he saw Jesus (John 1: 29).
This sacrifice by Christ was accomplished from a love so great we can barely conceive of it.
Christ is, also, described as the Suffering Servant in scripture (Isaiah 52: 13 – 53: 12).
Jesus took on a human nature in willing obedience to the Father. He was pierced and wounded on earth; His status as Lord was not grasped. Yet, the revulsion at His disfigured appearance will be replaced with great wonder. Nations will bow down before Him in adoration. Broken, He will be exalted.
Abused children differ in that they are incapable of consenting to their abuse. No one can argue that a crucified God does not understand their suffering. Why then would He allow it? This is the heart of the matter.
There has long been a war under way between good and evil, with the earth its venue. In reality, that war was won by Jesus’ death and resurrection. However, spiritual battles continue daily.
The adversary has the “advantage” of using even the most horrific means to accomplish his ends, to turn us from God and inflict pain upon Him. Our suffering does just that, i.e. grieve God as we are grieved when our own children suffer.
This is the context in which abuse takes place. Harm inflicted on the most vulnerable among us is a cunning weapon by the adversary against God.
But good triumphs over evil, as love is stronger than hate. At the end of time – a point which only God can determine – evil will be defeated and the scales of justice finally balanced. Like the martyrs under the altar (Revelation 6: 9-11), we wait anxiously for that day.
Meanwhile, we are conformed by God to the image of Christ. Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen had this to say about the sanctification process by which this takes place:
“Sanctity, then, is not giving up the world. It is exchanging the world [for something better]. It is a continuation…of the Incarnation in which Christ said to man: ‘…You give Me your time, I will give you My eternity… You give Me your slavery, I will give you My Freedom. You give Me your death, I will give you My Life. You give Me your nothingness, I will give you My All.’ And the consoling thought throughout this whole transforming process is that it does not require much time to make us saints; it requires only much love.”
Day by day, mile by mile, we follow in the Lord’s footsteps – each carrying the particular burden we have been allotted. At times, we stagger forward only by the Lord’s strength. Ours is spent.
It is love – God’s love for us, and ours for Him – which supports this impossible endeavor, and achieves this impossible goal. Not threat, not fear.
The adversary has lost, defeated by a holy God… and the weakest among us.