I often dog sit my granddogs, and they always give me this look of confusion. “Who are you anyway?” Are you here to help or are you a threat? They have to be reassured every time I drop by to care for them.
The Pope’s next line from the Peace Prayer says, “where there is ambiguity, let us bring clarity.” Reflecting on instances of ambiguity, I realized that many of them occur in normal life. When asked if I want to go somewhere, I may respond, “I guess so.” This message is not clear at all for the recipient. It is what we call a mixed message. My words are saying yes, but the phrase is implying reluctance or resentment, depending on the situation. I am asking the hearer to decide what I really want to do instead of being clear from the start. A clearer message might be:”I really do not want to go, but I realize that it is important to you and so I am agreeing to go and I will not act resentfully.” What are the chances that I will be that clear? Not high! But it would be a much fairer response on my part.
The Gospel of Matthew says “Let your yes be yes and your no be no.” Clearly people have been waffling for a long time when they answer one another! So this line of the prayer speaks to my tendency to be ambiguous instead of straightforward, handing responsibility to another to see what I really mean. A hard habit to break, but this line encourages me to try.