Building walls and bridges

I suppose that like me, many readers will be getting a little tired of the American elections. They seem to go on for so long, and they require incredible sums of money to be spent on advertising.

I will now admit some bias and say I am no fan of Donald Trump.

In fact, the ways Trump manages to trade on the fears of the voters rather reminds me of the clever manner in which Hitler did the same thing in 1929. A side issue was that Hitler was obsessed with the Jews. Today, Trump seems obsessed with the Mexicans and Muslims.

Hitler traded on the economic worries facing the Germans, and he promised to “make Germany great again.” Trump unhappily trades on the economic worries of the Americans, and promises to “make America great again.”

What really interested me this last week was the fuss between Trump and the Pope.  Pope Francis (quite rightly, in my opinion) said a person cannot be a Christian if he is intent mainly on building walls.

The proof—as with so many things Pope Francis says—lies with the example of Jesus.

FIRST, Jesus was the great wall-breaker in the way he broke down barriers between the “righteous” and “sinners.”

Before Jesus, sinners were excluded from religious life. Jesus demolished that barrier when he welcomed all “sinners” to eat with him. Eating together meant full acceptance and inclusion.

SECONDLY, Jesus was the great wall-breaker in the way he made the whole of Jewish scripture and tradition hang on the commandments to love God and love one’s neighbour.

THIRDLY, Jesus was the great wall-breaker in the way he extended boundless grace by healing all who needed healing.

Jesus healed all who came: women, men, children, Jews, non-Jews, poor, rich, those with or without faith—he made no distinction.

For many centuries, women had been regarded as inferior to men; this was another wall Jesus was intent on breaking down.   When a poor woman with a haemorrage touched Jesus, people said the Jewish law had deemed her ‘unclean.’ Jesus flouted the tradition by healing her.

I have always been proud that we have struggled to be a bridge church, a church not given to extremes. As such we try to continue the ministry of Jesus.