"The things we walk past without comment, turning our gaze away, are the things we give approval to."
This was very much one of the stand out comments of the day for me. We all too often ignore the things that we know are wrong and yet, away from the event or person, decry the actions we have silently permitted to happen. Just as our nation is policed by consent, to too do bad people act by consent - event when those around them give it tacitly by looking the other way.
One of the biggest criticisms I attract relates to getting involved. "Ignore it, it has nothing to do with you," people tell me, but if I ignore it then the wrong stuff will continue to happen, won't it?
Someone caught 'in a sin' should be restored 'gently' - for to act in any other way might cause us to sin as well. (Galatians 6) - is a key passage. But some clergy have challenged this over the years asking what gives me the right to decide that something is sin, and they ask who has appointee not me as judge. But surely 'sin' (as much as so many hate that word) is so often obvious and evident and made clear by reference to our Bible and to our innate sense of right and justice.
Sin appears in so many forms and yet so other the Church seeks to turn a blind eye to whatever is going on in the mistaken belief that it will somehow present a gentler and more acceptable face to the world around it. But the road for those who sin and are permitted to continue to do so is paved with our good intentions; and (in my experience) those whose sins are ignored never become members of the Church - so we have before us a lose/lose situation.
And when the day dawns and the day of the Lord arrives, I have a sneaky feeling that the Boss will undoubtedly have a word with us regarding our 'allowing people to do stuff that leads to death' ; so the goals against us are stacking up as we keep on approving the wrong stuff.
"Don't ask, don't look, don't think about it," are all stances I have been advised to take regarding sin over the years. But foolishly I have asked, looked, thought and even used words people dislike. Is it gentle and loving to ignore adultery? It is cruel and harsh to use that word when talking to one of those engaged in it or is it honest?
Someone once asked me what the Church would think about their relationship: "How would the Church describe the way I live," they asked. My response was. "Well, I think the label that best describes the situation you're in is fornication," said I hesitantly and just a little embarrassed at being put on the spot. "Ooh, I hate that word," they said, "It sounds awful and makes it look like I'm doing something wrong. I wish I hadn't asked!" But they did and the only answer I. Oh,d give was an honest one. This person remained in the Church and shortly after the conversation their status changed - did I have any part in that? Would the situation have remained as it were if I had mumbled platitudes?
Today I have had my standards challenged - have they slipped? The answer is, "I hope not," and the reality, "Probably!" I think we all face the perils of the assenting smile as we remember St Thumper of Bambi and the, "If you can't say something nice, don't say nuffin' at all," advice - one of the more polished paving slabs on the road to hell.
Lord, help me to always make my words mean something - for my yes and no to be what they appear and my assessment of the situation before me to be loving, honest, and kind.
May we, Your Church, be salt and light to the world around us,
This place of reflection is here initially for me to dialogue internally and gain insight and perspective. It first appeared as an extension of this blog for some of those looking at creating their own journal as part of the their journey to discerning vocation. The Morning prayer is there also for that same purpose: to create the discipline of prayer. Dialogue, insights and experience of others concerning this entry is always welcome - all grist to the mill.