I can’t imagine the awful experience of being the victim of identity theft. Criminals find resourceful ways to steal our Social Security number and other personal information and then use that data to take on our identity. It is a crime increasing in American and around the world. Often it goes unnoticed until it is too late. A person receives the credit card bill and notices with alarm charges he or she never made. It can be frustrating not only because privacy has been invaded, but also because it takes many phone calls and lots of paper work to get my identity back.
There are also people who have stolen the identity of God. These ‘criminals’ want a God who is a warrior god seeking destruction upon the enemy, a vindictive god who gets even, an anger god whose fury cannot be halted, a god who remembers our sins and eagerly punishes us for those failures, or a god who just doesn’t care about what is happening on this planet Earth. The readings today counter this identity theft.
For the Prophet Zechariah, our God is a God of peace. Therefore, the people should rejoice and shout for joy. God is a saving God, just, meek and humble. What God desires is to banish battle tanks and warring helicopters, armed drones and sniper rifles, rocket launchers and AK-47s. More importantly our God wants to banish retaliation, rage, and revenge that destroy civilization.
For Jesus, God is the one who invites us to find rest in the midst of turmoil, peace in the midst of disquiet, and firm ground in the midst of confusion. "Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest." The Son of God, far above us in his divine nature, comes to us to share our burdens. For Jesus that meant death on a Cross. We neither have a God who abandons us nor a God out to punish us. This is the identity of God that Jesus offers us. "No one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him." God reclaims his identity through the compassionate and gracious acts of Jesus, by the love and faithfulness of Jesus that took him to his death on the cross, and through acts of forgiveness. We know how God acts in Jesus Christ. Let’s protect that identify by acting on it.
Fr. Don Webber, C.P., is Provincial Superior of Holy Cross Province and resides in Chicago.