|where there is discord, I may bring harmony;|
where there is error, I may bring truth
I am standing in the queue for the Easter confession at the Franciscans, reading the verses of the prayer of Saint Francis on the wall of the corridor, and I realize that these two things are so much contrasting to each other that in fact only God can realize both simultaneously. At least this is my experience, especially recently. When one stands for truth where there is error, be sure that soon there will be discord as well. “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. A man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.” (Mt 10:34-36)
On the other hand I see that most people I know – unfortunately especially the Christians – aspire at any cost to the appearance of harmony, and in exchange they give up without hesitation the representation of truth, the clear distinction between good and bad, the straight speaking. “Let there be peace above all.”
I am still ruminating on this when – tolle, lege – I read this in Augustin, chapter 1.8. of The City of God, as if he wrote it as an answer for me:
For often we wickedly blind ourselves to the occasions of teaching and admonishing them [who do wrong], sometimes even of reprimanding and chiding them, either because we shrink from the labor or are ashamed to offend them, or because we fear to lose good friendships, lest this should stand in the way of our advancement, or injure us in some worldly matter, which either our covetous disposition desires to obtain, or our weakness shrinks from losing. ... Because it is a sin, that they who themselves revolt from the conduct of the wicked, and live in quite another fashion, yet spare those faults in other men which they ought to reprehend and wean them from.
At the same time I also experience that all the odium – losing people, doors being closed, being branded as “unloving” and “hating” or, in another dialect, “intolerant” and “fanatic” and the rest – that accompanies the representation of truth, is not just an accidental “risk” that can be avoided with some tact and sense of diplomacy, but a necessary consequence of this behavior. The more so the more straightforwardly and consequently one represents the truth. In an extreme case, to the point that was foretold by Plato in his Republic (361e) four hundred years before Christ:
The just man with this kind of soul ... will be scourged, racked, bound, will have his eyes burnt out; and, at last, after suffering every kind of evil, he will be crucified: Then he will understand that one does not have to aspire to be a just man, but to seem only.
And with this we are here at the object of the feast of today. Blessed Easter!