The Language of Love

Mar 31, 2000

© Jordan White Enterprises


            When Pope John Paul II made his historic visit to the Holy Land in March, 2000, he gave many speeches.  Some were directed to the Palestinian people; some to the Israelis; and some were for the benefit of the world at large.  They were good speeches; they spoke of love and forgiveness; of peace and harmony, peoples learning to get along with one another through understanding and mutual respect.   In many ways, his speech in Bethlehem before a largely Palestinian audience (Bethlehem is a city controlled by the Palestinians), was the most profound speech of all.  This is a rather strange thing to say, because, if you recall, the speech was given in English without the benefit of a translator, and thus, the largely Arabic-speaking audience had no clue as to what was being said.

            But words can only go so far, anyhow.  We have all been taken in by the promises and rhetoric of glib-talking politicians.  We have all heard speeches and sermons given by well-meaning individuals who brought a tear to our eye and wings to our heart but precious little else.  The Pope is not that sort of speaker.  More to the point, he is not that kind of human being.

            The Pope, you see, is a follower of Jesus Christ, and although most Christians make that claim, here is a man who really lives and acts upon what he believes.  That is why the speech he gave in Bethlehem was so profound.  Since the audience could not understand the English he spoke in, they were relegated to understanding what was behind the words.

            And that was the language of love.

            Love is not something usually associated with this tragically divided region of the world.  Rhetoric from both the Israeli and Palestinian sides often is accusatory and vitriolic.  And the mistrust produced by such rhetoric results in more and more erosion of the hope for a just solution to the conflict and of the dream of a lasting peace.

            What fruits have we seen from the language of hatred and accusation?  What results have come from more than fifty years of firing back blame and demanding redress?  What fruits have come even from the so-called “Peace Accords” and years of years of wrangling about this piece of land or recognition of some rights or another?  No fruits of justice can arise from seeds sown in hatred and mistrust!

            The Pope has taught us all a lesson that must not be forgotten.  He has shown us that a peace that’s bargained for, at the expense of true justice, is no peace at all.  He has shown us that a peace that is forced through fear, a sort of modern version of the “Pax Romana”, is no peace at all.  There is no peace when papers are signed and then are ignored by one or both sides.

            No, he has shown us that peace and justice are the fruits of love, not rhetoric and blame-shifting.  No bargaining-table in the world can accomplish such a feat.  For it is only when the heart of man is willing to change, to fully embrace and appreciate the needs and hopes of others, that these can be achieved.  What is needed is not an open mind, as some have said, but an open heart.

             Surely the Pope is following in the footsteps of Whom it was written:

            “Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold; My chosen one in whom My soul delights.  I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the nations. 

            “He will not cry out or raise His voice, Nor make His voice heard in the street.

            “A bruised reed He will not break, and a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish;

            He will faithfully bring forth justice.”   Isaiah 42: 1-3  (NAS)