There was a book some years ago entitled I’m OK, You’re OK, by Thomas A Harris. It listed all the logically possible combinations of attitudes to self and others: 1. I’m ok, you’re ok; 2. I’m ok, you’re not ok; 3. I’m not ok, you’re ok; and 4. I’m not ok, you’re not ok. Someone gave a copy to Thich Nhat Hahn, the Buddhist monk who had a centre in the Dordogne area in the south of France. Next morning when asked for his opinion of the book he said, “It’s ok! But it would be better if there was another category: I’m not ok, you’re not ok, and that’s ok!” This is much closer to the Christian spirit.
Most people dislike living in a mess: we have an instinct to clean up the place. The more tidy-minded we are, the more trouble we will have with messy rooms, messy organisation, messy thinking, messy feelings….
The Church is messy: not in its ideal, but in actual experience. There are Christians who are unable to live with this, and who become angry with everyone who is different from themselves. This is to begin at the wrong point. The real beginning is one’s own conversion, not that of others. When I begin at the wrong point my religion becomes a crusade, a search for a ‘pure race’. Certainly, faith is not just my own business, but if I am converted, I will go to others with the Good News, not with a critical and hypocritical spirit.
The spirit of Jesus says, Leave the weeds; leave them for God to sort out at harvest-time – in other words, leave them forever. Jesus’ followers understood him well: “Who are you to give a verdict on your neighbour?” (James 4:12).
Giltus Mathias CP, a Passionist priest at St.Brigid’s Community, Marrickville.