A Good Pair of Wire Cutters?

Dear Parishioners!

In the middle of the battlefield, the horse was no just caught in barbed wire, he was wrapped in it, laying on his side, unable to move. Soldiers from both sides spotted the helpless animal through binoculars and one finally made a move to help. Waving a white flag, he trudges across the field. A single soldier from the opposing side also walks out to help. He brings wire cutters and the two men, one English, one German, begin the grim task of carefully cutting the horse free. Their work is risky and must be done slowly. It requires two sets of hands, for the wire could recoil and dig deeper into the horse or even blind him. The conversation they have while working together is one of the real jewels of the film Warhorse. They take jabs at each other’s nationality, but also find a place for humor. They study the problem in front of them and then each contribute toward solutions. The scene ends with a freed horse and the two men shaking hands before returning to their comrades. “The church throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria was at peace. It was being built up and walked in the fear of the Lord, and with the consolation of the Holy Spirit it grew in numbers.”

This line from today’s first reading underlines what an amazing time it must have been for the early Church. The towns that are mentioned tell us that there were deep, ancestral differences among those first members: prejudices and discord that existed for generations. Yet they somehow found a way to resolve these differences, or, at least live with them, and come to a peace that was so attractive that their numbers grew. For me, it’s an image of Church which holds a certain wistfulness as I think of areas of conflict within the walls of Catholicism that leave so many far from peaceful. Obviously, there are the scars left from the ravages of the abuse scandal. Throw in a general discontent over language issues and health care issues. Add in the latest perceived disrespect of the work of women religious. The grumblings I hear come from many corners and the road to peace seems slippery. It concerns me especially on weekends like this one when thirty-seven of our youngest parishioners will receive the Eucharist for the very first time. They are so young and innocent, so many possibilities are ahead of them. What, I wonder, will the Church hold for them in ten, twenty years? What example will be given? Will there still be so much barbed wire? Will we ever again match the level of internal peace attained by Judea, Galilee, and Samaria?

Maybe we need to watch more movies. Maybe we need to remember how much can be accomplished by earnest dialogue and a little humor. Maybe we need a good pair of wire cutters…….

Father John