As we flick the channel, nightmarish wreckage of mangled bodies assaults our senses. The news anchor person speaks of violent death. This time three suicide bombers have taken seven lives with them in Ben Jehuda Street – Jerusalem's seemingly safe, most popular shopping district. Then the next morning the report is of Israeli commandos cut down in their prime — mere boys sent into Lebanon in search of the Hesbala guerrillas who were allegedly responsible in part for the bombing in Jerusalem. Death, bloodshed, and violence bombards our already saturated senses with intense pictures of grief and despair punctuated by outrage. And we are reminded of the writer of Ecclesiastes who wrote:
Ecclesiastes 9:12 –
- Moreover, no man knows when his hour will come:
As fish are caught in a cruel net,
or birds are taken in a snare,
so men are trapped by evil times
that fall unexpectedly upon them.
Into this wilderness world of hopelessness and revenge, Jesus walked, scattering sunshine and hope. Into such darkness, death, and the grave, He called to those whose souls were weighed down from grief and despair. To the despair and gloom, God in Christ spoke, "Let there be light." Jesus said, "Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you." And with that he breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven." That was Jesus' answer to violence and vengeance. Forgiveness. Peace. And we are His agents. We are His hands, His feet and His instruments of peace in this place.
Prayer: O Christ, make us instruments of your peace. Where there is hatred, let us sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is discord, union; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.
Grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; for it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen. (Prayer of St. Francis)