This past week a Christian did something really amazing. And this Christian who did something really amazing did so in a highly political context, and an international context. At least I think it is amazing when considering that Christianity is becoming less and less relevant regarding the major issues of the day. Issues that so called political leaders have little or no will to address unless it will help them get reelected. I mean, where are the Christian voices speaking out against the consolidation of wealth into the hands of a few at the expense of the many? Who in our own community is speaking out about the fact a third of our population goes hungry every day, that almost half of our children go hungry every day? What about gun violence? I don’t mean to imply guns should be outlawed, but when our children are gunned down in their elementary school or college setting by persons who, dealing with mental issues, were still able to buy guns legally there needs to be some serious soul-searching. Now, which of our political leaders are speaking out on these things?
I suppose I’m being hard on both Christians and politicians. After all, these issues are big issues and it is easy to become overwhelmed at the thought of taking them on.
But that is where Pope Francis comes along and does something really amazing. One might shrink at the thought of taking on hunger or gun violence or poverty, but to speak to Israelis and Palestinians about peace? And he didn’t even speak to them directly at first.
He simply stood at the wall that separated them and prayed.
Later he invited representatives from both sides to come to his place to pray. And talk. And maybe work some things out. Who knows? It might not work, but then again, it might.
I stood at a wall and prayed once. It is called the “Wailing Wall,” and is the West wall of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. It’s famous. Been there since before the time of Jesus. People who visit there go and pray and put little pieces of paper with written prayers on them, stick them between the cracks in the stone wall itself. I did that too. Friends asked me to do that for them so I did. Then I stood at the wall and thought, “Now what!?” What prayer was I going to say? The moment almost overwhelmed me.
And then the words came. “Our Father in heaven. Hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as in heaven.”
The words came from deep inside me, but they now carried a meaning I had never grasped before. What would it look like if God’s kingdom existed here, and not in some far away place we think might be heaven? Isn’t that what the prayer demands? “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth…”
This is where it seems to become difficult for many Christians. Or is it they make it difficult so they don’t have to actually live into it. Mark Twain once said his response to people who said they were disturbed but the things they could not understand in the Bible was that he was disturbed by the things he did understand in the Bible.
God’s kingdom is described in many ways in the Bible. One of the best summations of it is in Matthew 25:31-46. Check it out. We can do this. We have the power and the ability to do this.
The real question is do we have the will?