John 17:15 – I have given them your word and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world… I ask you to protect them from the evil one.
John Westerhoff was invited to Northern Ireland to lead a spiritual retreat on reconciliation with a mixed group of Catholics and Protestants, young and old. He was feeling like a failure as the week slipped by and old animosities seemed to continually rear their ugly heads. One morning meditating on the bible passage of the woman touching the hem of Jesus' robe, a monk joined the children on the floor to listen. After the storytelling came the silence. In the silence could be heard this whispered exchange between a little Protestant girl and the Catholic monk. "Can I touch you?" she asked. "Of course," he said. "I'm scared," she ventured. "Why?" he asked. "If my father knew I touched you, he might beat me." "Perhaps he does not need to know." Then she reached out a finger and touched him. Looking at her finger she exclaimed, "Nothing happened!" With tears welling up in his eyes, the monk said, "Yes, it did. You and I will never see the world the same again." Westerhoff comments that after that morning, everything changed on the retreat in conversations between those who had gathered in the name of reconciliation. Might your world change because you dare reach out and touch someone and allow them to touch you today? The Peace process in Ireland is at a critical moment with peace an actual possibility… but it takes people who are willing to risk, daring to trust, opening themselves to a touch of grace.
Prayer: Lord, Let all the Irelands of the world receive a touch of grace from the Lord of glory. Lord, help us to be one. Amen.