Franciscan Priest and Author Brennan Manning was fond of recounting a story about American G.I.’s in France during World War II. One of their number had been killed in action.
They approached the Priest in a local village and asked if they could bury their friend in the church cemetery. “Was he a Catholic in good standing in the church?”, the Priest asked. No, they admitted.
Then he cannot be buried in the parish cemetery. The soldiers felt hurt and angry. They dug a grave as close as they could to the cemetery, outside the fence, and buried their comrade.
The next morning they made a discovery. Their friend’s fresh grave was now inside the parish cemetery. During the night, the Priest had moved the fence.
Some people spend their lives building fences as tall and strong as possible. Others spend their lives doing all they can to make fences irrelevant. May God grant us the grace to be among the latter.
I find myself especially concerned about “fences” when I think of our current political and social dialogue going on in America today and wonder as a Christian what is my role when I see people intentionally trying to divide. We build fences when we don’t listen to other points of view and allow our pride and arrogance to reign supreme. We build fences when we resort to calling others names and are content to quit growing and learning from others. If there was ever a time in our country to “come together” and allow room for others who may be different or have a different perspective now is the time. “Building fences” is a disease and we must find a remedy or it will eventually destroy us.
“Christ tore down the wall to keep each other at a distance. He repealed the law code that had become so clogged with fine print and footnotes that it hindered more than it helped.” (Ephesians 2:14-15. (The Message)
Faithfully, Ron Naylor, Chaplain