Years ago I heard something that I shared with my students to see if what I heard was true. The point was not to mislead or embarrass anyone, but to point out that clarity of communication matters.
You may have heard about the potential problem of a dihydrogen oxide build up in the environment. It was a rainy day in Charleston when I spoke with my students about the current dihydrogen oxide spill. Scientists say that this dangerous chemical goes largely unregulated although it has incredible destructive potential. It is found in large concentrations in the atmosphere, in lakes, rivers, and oceans, and in the ground, yet the public seems not to be overly concerned or even aware of its dangers. This hydric acid can corrode metals and dissolve rock. It can create sink holes and mud slides. It is a major cause of destruction to our bridges, roadways, communication systems, and sewer lines. Meteorologists say it plays a key role in blizzards and hurricanes, tsunamis and floods. To humans, prolonged exposure can damage skin tissue and ingestion of large amounts of hydric acid can cause gastric distress, diarrhea, or even death. Having shared this news, a good number of students were understandably concerned that there had been a recent heavy spill of hydric acid in Charleston. Bad stuff, this hydric acid, this dihydrogen oxide, this H2O.
“Oh, that is what you are talking about.” Clarity of communication matters. I appreciate that the different professions have their necessary technical language. That language is helpful toward the precision required in those professions and must be learned by those practitioners. It is meant for a limited field and is helpful in the clarity of their internal communication. With my students, I engaged in obfuscation. I intentionally made something simple hard to understand.
One thing I think Jesus tried to do was to be clear and straightforward in his communication. Yes, I get that he spoke in parables and said things about people not understanding because he spoke in parables, but I think that was a clever way of inviting the curious, brilliant, ordinary and lazy to think for themselves rather than obfuscation.
The prophet Micah tells us what God requires - “To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Jesus amplifies that in the life he models for us by showing us just, merciful, and humble living, and in the words he left us that summarize the whole purpose of our lives - “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.”
Can it be more clear than this? To act justly is to fulfil our responsibilities to God and neighbor. To act mercifully is to extend grace to others where it is not merited, knowing that we, too, require mercy. To walk humbly is to understand that all that we have is the gift of God. To love God is to love your neighbor and to love your neighbor is to love God. These are the measure for our Christian progress and the measure by which all our decisions should be made. Is this clear?
Grace and peace, Fr Bill+