Views from the Pews: Building bridges helps us to bond

Pope Francis.
Pope Francis.

rev barry pyke

Whether you agree or disagree with Donald Trump and his views, what the Pope said has resonances for us as individuals and a nation as we are now to start the debate that will decide the future of the UK in Europe.

In our personal lives we all, at times, build metaphorical walls around ourselves when we feel vulnerable, fragile and fearful. The wall provides a barrier from the things that we perceive may threaten and disturb us. We can feel behind the wall a sense of uneasy security and comfort in the knowledge that the wall offers us protection. However, walls have their problems.

Although we may feel a temporary security we still know that all those things we fear that lie on the other side of the wall are still there and could, if we are not vigilant, break through and still disturb us. And so we might build the wall a bit higher and strengthen it a bit more just in case.

When walls are built there is a tendency to become inward looking and not engage with others thereby reinforcing an isolation and building up fear.

Walls not only exclude those outside the wall but make those who have built the walls prisoners. Walls and barriers have never proved an answer to problems and fears and sooner or later the walls will fall. To build a bridge requires courage and faith and a desire to move from one place to another rather than being stationery behind a wall. In the relationship between God and his people it would be easy to see God in his heaven and humanity on earth – somehow isolating one from the other with little dialogue.

The Christian story changed all this. With the coming of Jesus God builds a bridge between himself and humanity so that a dialogue can take place. Jesus is the bridge by which God enters our humanity and we enter the presence of God. It is no surprise that the Pope is called the Pontiff or Pontifex meaning in Latin bridge builder. All Christians, as the Pope says, are called to be bridge builders and not wall builders.

In the weeks and months we shall hear much about the UK’s relationship with Europe. We will all make up our own minds – but I hope we will ponder the advice to be bridge builders rather than wall builders and seek dialogue and friendship.