During the past three months, or even longer, much has appeared in the media about the politics of the United States of America.
The word ‘trust’ has been written – not so much in affirmation, but more frequently, as ‘Can we trust…?’ A similar situation may well be present in Australia.
The Royal Commission has tested the churches, particularly the Catholic Church – my church. Questions have been put to witnesses, sometimes repeated from different angles, to ensure that the answers that are given are honest. Unfortunately, it is not assumed that what people say is the truth. At this time in Christian history, churches have a huge task before them of building credibility and trust.
Perhaps because of these two situations, I have been reflecting on the use of words. Politicians, leaders in business or church can be skilled at answering the questions they wish to answer rather than the question they are asked. Sometimes they give part of the truth, no doubt hoping that further questions will not be asked. Facts can be hidden!
It is not just in situations as above, but in our ordinary conversations and communications that our language has power. I love seeing people who are constantly and consciously affirming of others. The words that we speak or write can build up or break down. In community, in the community of the Church, we are called to build up the body of Christ.
Psalm 51, prayed in the Book of Hours on each Friday. The translation that I use begins, ‘Have mercy tender God forget that I defied you.’ How I love these words. Right there at the start we express our sinfulness, relying on God’s mercy.
The psalm continues, ‘You love those centred in truth; teach me your hidden wisdom. ‘How challenging is this! Moving beyond our own ‘truth’ to God’s truth doesn’t just happen – not without prayer, stillness, openness. So it is no wonder that a few verses later, we pray, ‘Creator, reshape my heart, God, steady my spirit.’ Only with God’s grace is it possible to be immersed in God’s truth.
So no doubt, as you read this, you will recognize the ‘fasting’ to which I hear God inviting me this Lent. May this Lent be for each of us, a joyful season, as we hear and respond to God’ s invitation to draw close to our loving merciful, Trinitarian God.
The leaders of our member churches invite all of us to begin our Lent well: praying and fasting in support of people who are seeking refuge and asylum in Australia and elsewhere. May God hear our prayer, turning the hearts of those who make political decisions and open our hearts to welcome all who come to us. May we be true neighbours.
Sr Elizabeth Delaney sgs