04 March 2010

be a lamp

“The church is a lamp that has to give light, and therefore it must involve itself in tangible reality and thus be able to enlighten the pilgrims who walk on this earth. This concern of the church does not mean that it leaves its own sphere but that it perseveres in its difficult duty of shedding light on concrete affairs.”

This paragraph, from Oscar Romero’s The Violence of Love (p. 87), presents some of his thoughts on how the church engages in real-world matters. (Just in case you’re wondering, I agree with him!) He speaks of ways Christians join various organizations to pursue justice and peace. Still, we have to remember who we are. “The church,” he adds, “from its commitment to the gospel, supports the just objectives that the organizations likewise seek, and [my emphasis] it also points out the injustices and the instances of violence that the people’s organizations may commit.”

It is perfectly legitimate—indeed, necessary—to work with people and groups of every stripe if we are to raise awareness and bring about needed change. That’s part of the “difficult duty of shedding light on concrete affairs,” as Romero puts it. If I do nothing but complain to my wife about the injustices in the world, she is totally justified in telling me to keep my trap shut!

Nonetheless, we have to be careful when doing our good work not to lose focus. We can protect a lake and still love each other. Or as the rock group U2 includes in the liner notes for their DVD, Vertigo 2005—Live from Chicago, “Don’t become a monster in order to defeat a monster.”

(Copyright 2007 by Plough Publishing House. Used with permission.)

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