Roman Catholic Church, Mississauga, Ontario
St Mary Star of the Sea
Madonna and Child by Marianne Stokes
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As I write this, terrible violence between Israel and Palestine and between Russia and the Ukraine and, of course, in Iraq, is rocking our world. Many of us watch news reports and read journalist reports trying to understand the issues and asking questions like: “How did this escalate so quickly?” “Why isn’t diplomacy working?” We feel a little like voyeurs – watching but having no role in ending the struggle or helping those caught in the conflict.
But, as Christians, we do have a role. We have prayer. I urge you to remember the teachings of Jesus. Like the Jews and the Muslims, Christians are taught two fundamental teachings: Love God above all and love your neighbour. But for Christians there is a third equally important teaching that sets us apart: Love your enemies.
Dr Martin Luther King spoke of this in a sermon given on November 17 1957 – Loving Your Enemies. “Love is creative, understanding goodwill for all men. It is the refusal to defeat any individual. When you rise to the level of love, of its great beauty and power, you seek only to defeat evil systems. Individuals who happen to be caught up in that system, you love, but you seek to defeat the system.”
That’s why we continue to encourage non-violent solutions that start with peace, respect and dignity. So, our prayers should be for those leaders in conflict to follow the path of peace. Pope Francis, in his Sunday address on July 27 2014, has given us the words as we unite in our prayers to end the violence which erupts in the news every day.
He “urged all those listening to his words to continue joining him in prayer that God might grant to the peoples and leaders in the Middle East, in Iraq and in Ukraine the wisdom and strength to pursue the path of peace with determination and to face each dispute with the force of dialogue and reconciliation. Every decision, he said, must not be based on particular interests but on the common good and on respect for each person. Remember, the Pope said, that all is lost with war and nothing is lost with peace.” – Pope Francis Appeals for Peace
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’
But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you
may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and
on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”