In an area of much killing where I was supporting reconciliation some years ago, I spent time with a group of Anglican priests. Several thousand people had been killed in heavy fighting during the previous week. It was the second outburst of fighting in less than ten years. The priests were bitter, mourning families, friends and church members. One gave up preaching and used the time for the sermon explaining how to strip, clean and reassemble an automatic rifle. Over a few months we worked together, thinking and praying about the situation, about the very real threats they faced, about the history of battle, and about the teaching of scripture, especially in Jonah. Slowly they learned afresh that they were loved, and learned to love and began to reach out to their enemies. The reconciliation remains fragile, but continues to this day.
We change our conflicted communities when we rediscover reconciliation in Christ for ourselves. Paul reminds the divided Ephesians that God breaks down all barriers. They are reconciled through the cross to God and are to be reconciled to others. It is costly. Reconciliation is cross-shaped. Justice is cross shaped. Churches that seek justice will find a cross, and will need to bear it. So many of you have done that. So many not only here in Guatemala, but elsewhere in the Province, know the pain of conflict. And yet we have the answer ”“ and that answer is us, says Paul. It is extraordinary, because again he was speaking to a small church in a very pagan society, and yet he was right, and history proved it over the centuries.