As I write, the war continues between Israel and Hamas. The atrocities of Hamas at the beginning of this month were barbaric, heinous, just evil. Israel has a right to defend itself against such attacks. However, many innocent lives are being taken on both sides. In one of his first statements on this war, Pope Francis said, "I continue to follow with much sorrow what is happening in Israel and Palestine," Francis said on Sunday. "I think back to the many people, especially the little ones and the elderly." The pope also called for an end to the shedding of "innocent blood" and also reiterated calls for the release of Israeli hostages taken by Hamas during the October 7 attack.
"Brothers and sisters, already many have died," he said.
"Please, let no more innocent blood be shed, neither in the Holy Land nor in Ukraine, nor in any other place! Enough! Wars are always a defeat, always!"
This war is taking place in the home of the three monotheistic faiths --- Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. All three faith traditions speak about submission to the will of God, to live in peace.
Actions based on dislike, envy, or hatred of the other bring honor to no one. As humans, we are slow learners as we tend to repeat acts of violence. We continue to develop more lethal weapons. Technological advances have made war almost like playing a video game. Soldiers can sit at video screens directing missiles, drones, and malware. The results are the same innocent lives are taken, all at the expense of few who decide violence is the only way to solve conflicts.
When will we come to our senses and discover there are better ways to resolve conflict and live in peace with one another? While none of us in our One in Christ faith communities can resolve the conflict between Israel and Hamas, we have the power of prayer. Let us pray that all sides will be open to the guidance of the Holy Spirit and recall their commitment to be submissive to the will of God. We can also resolve our own commitment to trust fully God. Let us reach out in love to neighbor and enemy, to offer and seek forgiveness, and to walk with each other in compassion.
This Sunday is World Mission Sunday. Pope Francis, in his message for World Mission Sunday 2023, reflects on the theme “Hearts on fire, feet on the move," based on the story of the disciples who encounter Jesus on their way to Emmaus (cf. Lk 24:13-35). He invites all of us to "set out once more, illumined by our encounter with the risen Lord and prompted by his Spirit. Let us set out again with burning hearts, with our eyes open and our feet in motion. Let us set out to make other hearts burn with the word of God, to open the eyes of others to Jesus in the Eucharist, and to invite everyone to walk together on the path of peace and salvation that God, in Christ, has bestowed upon all humanity."
On World Mission Sunday, we join our Holy Father in supporting his missions. As we pray and respond here at home, we share in those celebrations taking place in every parish and school throughout the world. Together, through our prayers and financial support, we bring the Lord’s mercy and concrete help to the most vulnerable communities in the Pope’s missions.
In a world where so much divides us, World Mission Sunday rejoices in our unity as missionaries by our Baptism, as it offers each one of us an opportunity to support the life-giving presence of the Church among the poor and marginalized in more than 1,111 mission dioceses.
Lord, make us instruments of your peace.