Silence Doesn't Bring Peace

Fr. Anthony de Mello once told this very short, humorous, and very pointed story... 

A tourist to a town hired a guide to show him the sights.  At one point during the tour, the tourist said to the guide:  

"You have a right to be proud of your town.  I was especially impressed with the number of churches in it.  Surely people here must love the Lord."

To which the guide replied:  "Well, they may love the Lord, but they sure as hell hate each other."  
If you're like me, that last line probably drew a wry smile from you, or maybe a chuckle.  

Whatever you felt was all due to the juxtaposition of the phrase "...they may love the Lord" against "....they sure as hell hate each other," which is a bit jarring, and also pretty funny.  

It most likely didn't make you laugh out loud, though, because it hits a little too close home for most of us---especially those of us who claim to follow Jesus, and who attend church on a semi-regular basis. 

Because we find ourselves grieved only by the divisions that exist within our culture but also within the Church itself.  

The poet Amanda Gorman recently wrote: 
Our only enemy is that which would
Make us enemies to each other. 
And friends, there are plenty of enemies to go around when it comes to the things that cause us to distrust, dislike, and dismiss one another.  

It doesn't take a social scientist to realize that the way things are in our culture cannot be sustained, and the same goes for the Church.   

Sadly, Christians are becoming known far more by the ways we exclude, the things we ban, the people we discriminate against, and the way, we seem to default to a fear-based, Jesus-less approach to most of the big issues of the day. 

And God forbid if you try to say otherwise.  

I was sharing some of what I'm sharing here with a colleague recently, and he told me that he'd been warned by several of the key leaders in his congregation not to preach or write on issues of justice, inequality, racism, and the like.  

Basically, these leaders didn't want to hear anything that might contradict the narrative they've created about what constitutes the Christian faith in America.  

But here's the thing... Keeping silent about the sins of injustice, bigotry, materialism, and greed in our culture for the sake of "keeping the peace," isn't working.  

It's uncomfortable to speak about divisive issues, but if we refuse to have difficult conversations, our silence will speak for us. 

You see, part of what it means to follow Jesus is to emulate his example when it comes to being willing to sit down with people with whom we disagree, and simply have a meal and talk.  

Further, instead of constantly railing against one another over our disagreements, we ought to be tending to the business of reading and re-reading the words of Christ, and learning from the message of his ministry what it means to be his follower.   

If we would dedicate ourselves and our faith communities to focus on Christ, and submit to being led by his teachings, we very well may begin to see the world and one another differently. 

Who knows? That alone could bring about the unity and peace that we say that want to see. 

May it be so and may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.  


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