A flurry of conflicting realities converged on me this morning in a way I found challenging:
- The Gospel at liturgy happened to be Luke 6:27-38: “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you… Turn the other cheek…. Then you will be children of the Most High, for God is kind even to the ungrateful and the wicked.”
- President Obama addressed our Christian nation last evening promising to “degrade and destroy” ISIS in Iraq and Syria and anywhere they go.
- This military effort is in part to protect the vulnerable Iraqis that we pray for every day here at Mass since the Adrian Dominican community where I worship has Iraqi sisters who have had to flee Mosul and are with their families among the displaced and desperate. They wrote to us just a few days ago complaining that “our cries are ignored, and the world turns a blind eye to our sufferings.”
- Some argue that bombing ISIS and other such groups only helps their recruitment. Others insist Obama has shown weakness and lack of leadership by not acting militarily sooner and more forcefully – thereby encouraging terrorism. Still others remind us of our responsibility to protect the vulnerable.
- On this 13th anniversary of 9-11-2001, NPR aired two short segments from Story Corps in which individuals who lost loved ones in the Twin Towers in NY remembered their loved ones with heartrending words.
- On this day, 9-11, in 1941, ground was broken in Northern Virginia for the building of the Pentagon.
- Someone left me a quotation in the Missal today that leapt off the page: “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children…. This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.” ~President Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1953
- Pax Christi regions across the U.S. are launching a campaign soon with an ad in NCR declaring that “it’s time for the Catholic Church to reject ‘just war’ as inconsistent with the teaching and example of Jesus and to become a Just Peace Church.”
- A committed intentional Eucharistic community that I have been associated with for decades has had a long debate about whether it could sign on to that ad – and could not reach consensus.
We as a Church community and as a national community are deeply divided over how to respond to violence and injustice and how best to work for peace. Respectful and probing public discussion could certainly help us move forward a little. The path will inevitably be long and difficult.
I hope, though – and believe – that at this time we should all be able to agree on the importance of investing more of our resources and energies in new and creative approaches to large-scale peacemaking. And join in prayer for peace for all peoples, bringing resurrection from our global cross of iron.