We all have heard this song many times when good old Josh slump-dunked the city wall of Jericho with the first Jewish symphony orchestra. These days we have seen something similar commemorated. On November 9, 1989 the wall of Berlin fell. Sad memories go to 1961 when a long wall was built which separated the Russian sector (East Berlin) from the American, French and British sector (West Berlin). This wall was for decades the symbol of tyranny and deprivation of freedom. With the wall embracing the "worker paradise", it was impossible to leave the country. The communistic propaganda claimed they had to defend themselves from the capitalistic world and used every mean to achieve this goal. Even in 1988 important politicians of East Germany claimed that the wall would last for many years.
At this moment in history, many people in East Germany were fed up with their lack of freedom and a life of hardship and poverty.
The wall was not destroyed, however, through an armed uprising but originated from a protestant Church in Leipzig. Every Monday evenings, people gathered to pray for peace and after the liturgy the faithful walked through the streets shouting "We are the people!" this reminded the government in East Berlin who the real citizens were.
The desire for freedom and the interior problems of the regime in East Berlin, which was founded on an ideology which alienates God and men, was boiling up in Eastern Europe and prepared the historical collapse which came without bloodshed.
Is there a lesson to be learned for the people of the 21st century? Thanks be to God many nations could liberate themselves from communistic chains. The example of the fall of the wall shows us the how important it is to live your faith “aloud”. We do not know what would have happened if the demonstrators from Leipzig stayed home every Monday night and read the Bible or prayed the rosary, but we know the results of those days. Instead of praying at home and keeping a low profile, the people were sitting on the ruble of bricks and concrete which manifested itself in tears of joy, champagne and many kisses. That is not too bad!
The iron curtain is gone, but we still have not reached the “happy end”. Today the question is asked: “How private should faith be?” We are confronted with secular apostles who try to purify a modern society from religious scent. Crusaders for separation of Church and State want to build a new Europe without a Christian foundation. We are not talking of converting the parliaments into sacristies and submit them to a theocracy.
A house is not build on a vacuum but on a foundation. For Europe this foundation is the Christian heritage. This heritage is not a limitation as some see it, but a chance for freedom and development. It can be a school of true humanism from which all peoples could profit (including those who confess no creed or members of other religions). What are we talking about? Most importantly we are talking about the understanding of men, the world and God. It also includes human rights, the dignity of man, promotion of peace and also a responsible contact with the environment.
We should also not forget that Christians are usually very good citizens. They pay taxes, raise children and teach them respect and love for their neighbour. Considering this maybe we should not only allow a Christian influence in our governments, but provoke it for a better world, for a better Europe.
Let us hope and pray that the wall of Berlin was not the last barrier which collapsed, but that also many prejudices against a true Christian influence in public life live the same experiences as “the Jericho walls came tumbling down!”
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