Let’s be obnoxious

Even though I am sure she did not mean to do it, Elizabeth Bruening‘s article on a rape in Texas that was denied, concealed, and forgotten by the adults who should have been protecting Amber Wyatt has many parallels to our current situation in the Church. And it has many parallels to the Church’s liturgical readings lately.

Looking at today’s readings for Mass, one word stuck out in the first reading: “obnoxious.”

Let us beset the just one, because he is obnoxious to us;
he sets himself against our doings,
reproaches us for transgressions of the law
and charges us with violations of our training.

  • Wisdom 2:12

From Bruening’s article:

(Marks would later explain to police that unnamed kids had asked her to make Wyatt leave, because Wyatt was being, in her words, “obnoxious.”)

“At approx 11:30 pm I was shutting down the party,” she wrote. “The kids told me Amber was being obnoxious and to get her to leave. I asked [the soccer player] to take her home. He agreed and left. At approx 20-60 minutes [the soccer player] arrived back at the house.”

We find obnoxious those things or people that grab our consciences. We object to comments or actions that pull us into the light of truth when we would rather hide in the darkness. We cast out people and opinions that imply that we are in the wrong–particularly when, deep down, we agree with their assessment.

The reading from the Book of Wisdom foreshadows the way that Jesus would be treated, for sure, but it is also relevant to the crisis in the Church. Haven’t bishops and cardinals in the hierarchy been reproached for their transgressions of the law? Haven’t we cried out because they have violated the training of their sacred offices? Don’t they tell us to move on to other topics–climate change, immigration, whatever–because they don’t have time for this discussion? In short, don’t they find us and the abuse topic “obnoxious”?

Yet those who try to silence “the just one”–or anyone trying to uncover the truth–and divert them from speaking the truth are given a name in the Book of Wisdom. It simply calls them “the Wicked.”

Maybe Mrs. Marks from Arlington, Texas found Amber “obnoxious” because she did not want the police to ask about the rampant underage drinking that went on at her house. Perhaps she was asked to cover for the boys, and that is why she offered a story so different from what everyone first agreed were the facts–including the accused.

Whatever people’s motivations for removing the obnoxious from their midst, the common thread running through these stories is an evasion of truth. Whether it’s for personal gain, to cover one’s own transgressions, or out of malice, we remove the obnoxious to hide the truth.

The Book of Wisdom, however, gives away the ending. Of the truth teller, it says, “God will take care of him.” Let us take comfort in that and continue to seek and proclaim the truth. Let us be obnoxious to those who are concealing the truth, and whatever earthly persecutions we may suffer, let’s focus on and proclaim the Truth.


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