When red should run on our streets rather than a washing machine -Friday, 5th Week in Easter – acts 15:22-31.

Paralysis by analysis is how I best describe many decisions (or even worse the lack of them) that are made, by and large, in the Church of India. I am not suggesting that where fools rush in, angels should tread blindly. However, when every dot and iota must be examined by human minds, in order for every possible mistake to be eliminated, then the result is directed towards looking good and not doing good.

Nothing is foolproof. While thought must be given, options examined and consequences weighed, there will always be some lacunae. The apostles and elders of the Earl Church had deliberated on a well-cherished belief of the Jewish Christians. Yet, in this case, what was good for the goose was not good for the gander. Peter described circumcision, a sign of the Abrahamic covenant for the Jews, as a “yoke” that was unbearable. It was time to let go of circumcision in this new emerging sect of Judaism whose followers had already been given the name, ‘Christians.’

Would there be consequences? It would be foolhardy to believe there would not. We know from the chapters following, that those in disagreement with the decision of the Council of Jerusalem, turned their ire on Paul. Perhaps we still do the same when we vent our frustration on the dog because we can’t kick the boss. It was the council that took the final decision, yet the Judaizers (Jewish Christians in favour of circumcision) directed their ire towards Paul.

The decision of the council of Jerusalem had, what I call, a ring of apostolic authority. Not only were Paul and Barnabas sent on a renewed mission but witnesses of this council were appointed to communicate this decision so that there was no room for ambiguity. This council set its seal on the matter. It also called out those who had disturbed the peace of the community. The letter affirms that they acted with no instruction and no authority from the apostles or elders in Jerusalem. Their objective was to disturb the minds and unsettle the thoughts of the believers. Here was the council calling out, in no uncertain terms, those who were disrupters of the faith. Alas, if only we did the same today.

This is how a Church should function. Fraternal correction cannot be just a slap on the wrist when those responsible should be behind bars. Such a Church does not hold a moral high ground especially when we defend life and limb in every other form. You have to ask yourself why the Church in India continues to be lacklustre in her prophetic voice. You have to ask yourself why we do not hear the firm teaching voice of our Bishops rather than tepid if not ill-prepared homilies. You have to ask yourself why the pulpit does not break the word and break its silence on issues of justice. You have to ask yourself why the Church in India, its hierarchy, clergy, religious and laity continue to say little about the suffering of her people in Manipur.

The Catholic Bishops Conference cannot be a paper tiger that issues limp press releases and calls for fasts and prayers when much more needs to be said. Should consequences be weighed? Yes! Will those consequences raise many more Fr Stan Swamy’s? Of course, it must! But the Church in India must be decisive like the Early Church even though they knew they would be marched to a cross or thrown to the lions.

The Cardinals wear red for a reason. It’s the colour of blood. It’s time they let that colour bleed on our roads for taking a stance that the same colour simply run in a washing machine.

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