Day 5 – God’s judgement on our silence
‘Just as you did not do it to one of the least of these..’ (Mt 25: 45)
What does the Lord require of us?
Ps 31 (30): 1-5
God, the refuge and faithful redeemer
1 Pet 4:17
Judgment begins with the household of God
Mt 25:31-46 (41-46)
You did not do it to me
Those who suffer in silence – who have lost their voice, or had it taken from them – have their refuge and hope in God, who is faithful to redeem them. Yet they rightfully look for help, not only to God but to God’s servants, and not least to Christians and the churches. These are called to speak on behalf of those who cannot, or will not, lift their own voices; and to empower the powerless to speak for themselves: the Lord requires us to do justice first of all.
Yet too often the hopes of those who suffer are met with silence. Christians and the churches do not always speak out when they should or work to empower the voiceless to find their own voice. Called to serve others, to do it unto the least of these; too often we do not. Even knowing that Jesus is present in the least of these, we do not always serve them as we ought.
We know that it is time for judgement to begin with the household of God. What we do is set alongside what we are called to do, any difference is made plain: insofar as we are silent and do not empower the powerless to speak, we are judged. Yet the purpose of God’s judgement is not to condemn, but to bring us to new life. Confession leads to liberation: recognizing that our silence makes us complicit in the suffering of others, we may yet speak on their behalf, and empower them to speak for themselves.
As Christians and churches – wherever we are – we must ask ourselves whether we are sometimes too silent, with questions such as these:
- Are we speaking out on behalf of others as best we can, and empowering them to speak for themselves?
- If not, is it a question of being able to hear the cries of those who suffer? Or have we become numb in the face of so many cries of grief, of (for example) the constant burials in the townships, informal settlements, and rural areas?
- Are individual churches sometimes so concerned with internal matters, that they are unable to hear the cries of those outside their own walls?
- Are the churches hampered by their divisions from hearing the cries of those who suffer?
These are difficult questions, but by asking them together we may be able to break the silence and thus show our unity in service to those who suffer.
God our refuge and redeemer,
Hear the voices of those who have no voice;
Open their mouths to speak, and grant them justice and healing, joy and peace at last.
Open our ears to hear the cries of those who suffer;
Open our mouths to speak out on their behalf; and
Open our hearts that we may work to empower others to speak. Amen.