Saturday, 04 December 2021

Roll back the blanket of fear through faith

RECENTLY, I found the record of a letter written by an elderly priest to the young

RECENTLY, I found the record of a letter written by an elderly priest to the young daughter of an Italian count. 

The letter was dated 1513, four years before Luther reputedly pinned his 95 thesis upon the church door in  Wittenberg. 

While the Church at that time was in some turmoil, the elderly priest was encouraging the young woman in her faith.

He counselled: “Life is so generous a giver, but we, judging its gifts by their covering, cast them away as ugly or heavy or hard. Remove the covering and you will find beneath it a living splendour, woven of love, by wisdom, with power.”

For many, the spring of 2016 will certainly appear “ugly or heavy or hard”. 

At home, there is conflict over the junior doctors’ contract and deeply divisive opinions over EU membership while in far-off lands armed conflicts result in death, destruction and the fear of mass migration. 

So, Mr elderly priest, where is the covering that we may remove to find the hidden living splendour?

In the publication Dying We Live, letters from those about to be executed by the Nazis evidence the refusal of the condemned to let their spirit be defeated, even when death was but hours away. 

For those facing such a traumatic experience, the victory was one of faith over fear. 

While current conflicts may not threaten our very existence, the conflict between faith and fear most certainly threatens our communal tranquillity. 

We are fearful for our healthcare, our social and economic freedom or of being overrun by the foreigner, even if we have sympathy for their plight. The common constituent is fear! 

To follow the elderly priest’s advice we need to roll back the blanket of fear through faith, often in our fellow citizens. 

When faith banishes fear, we will be more able to understand the nature of theses conflicts and the manner in which they may be resolved. 

Behind the ugly shouts of a demonstrator may well be a caring soul, while your political opponent may be on a mission to do good.

And who should ever be fearful of a foreigner just because they are a foreigner; are they not all the children of the living God?  

Enter political disputation with vigour by all means and watch the passing tides of humanity with appropriate caution but, please, pull back the blanket of fear and have faith in your fellow traveller, for there you may well find love, wisdom and power.

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