Elephants and Deer

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"When elephants fight the deer is the victim". This Oriental saying contains much wisdom and truth. One sees this drama enacted not too infrequently on the human stage. I recall how a priest friend of mine at the defence of his doctoral thesis went through a harrowing time and became a helpless victim all because of the unresolved personal as well as ideological differences between his Moderator and the Second Reader. He was compulsively caught in the cross-fire between them. I have known some superiors who disagree vehemently among themselves and then hold their subordinates responsible for their own personal administrative lapses' . And there are persons in the higher echelons of power who in an arrogant display of authority heap up blame on their subjects for their own faults and failings. Alas, at times, even Church persons are not free from such foibles. The Church is the spotless bride of Christ for Sure; but her members are not exempt from all sorts of excrescences and pimples which gives me an added reason to love her even more. The strains of that song come to mind: "I love you as you are".

Instead, when I read and reflect on the Gospel I find Jesus' attitude so drastically different. As Master, Jesus shielded His disciples from the attacks of the Pharisees and scribes. He answered questions posed to His disciples to which they had no reply. When Jesus was once asked by the Pharisees and scribes: "Why do your disciples not respect the tradition of the elders but eat their food with unclean hands?" (Mk 7:5), He defended His own by reminding His critics of the prophecy of Isaiah about hypocrisy and rendering God mere lip service. Again, when His disciples were questioned by some of the Pharisees for picking ears of corn, rubbing them in their hands and eating them on the Sabbath, Jesus in justification recalled what David and his followers did when they were hungry as they ate the loaves of the offering (Lk 6:1).

What a wonderful Master and Leader Jesus is! He defends and protects His own; He shields and supports them; He redeems and rescues them; He replies to and refutes any allegation made against them. Even more, Jesus takes on their weaknesses and burdens Him-self with their sins and shortcomings, becoming the 'divine scapegoat', the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world. Far from blaming others for their faults and failings, He assumes them, and though without sin Himself, becomes 'sin' and victim for their lapses. In Jesus' case would it be proper to reverse the Oriental proverb and say: "When deer fight the elephant becomes the victim"?

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